Handmade Jewelry is Easy, Fun and Affordable!
Leigh Royal has always loved jewelry. As a child, she used to dress up in her grandmother’s pieces, picking out fun things and wearing them around the house. Today, Leigh creates one-of- a-kind pieces from gorgeous items she finds at estate sales and bead shows. “I like finding pieces and putting them together,” says Leigh. “Jewelry trends change pretty rapidly, and seasonally, so you have to keep up with them.”
Right now, druzy* pieces are popular, as well as big statement earrings and necklaces. “I’ve always been into earrings and necklaces,” says Leigh. “You don’t necessarily need to wear big earrings with a necklace. You don’t want to overdo it.” For fall, Leigh recommends choosing either a statement necklace or big earrings and pairing them with a cozy sweater. “I really like big pieces with a fall sweater in darker colors. It’s fun to work with.”
All of Leigh’s designs are her own, and she touches every piece that makes its way to the consignments shops and stores where her jewelry can be purchased. “They’re all my ideas, and it’s been a lot of fun,” says Leigh, who has been in business for about a year.
“I do get my money back from the business, but I don’t gouge people.” she says. “Not everybody can afford a big druzy necklace for $150 at a boutique, so everything I make is under $100.” Making pieces affordable also means customers can buy multiple pieces at once and can afford to change up their jewelry with the seasonal trends.
What Leigh sees trending for the fall and winter is bead and chain combinations with a big drop, as well as gunmetal, copper and rose gold elements. “Silver is on its way out,” Leigh said. “You don’t see it as much. It’s harder for me to find silver because gold is so big, and rose gold is still big.”
Leigh has been featured by multiple bloggers, including Collins Touhy of “The Blind Side” fame. “Social media really helps with my business,” she says. “If I were trying to do this in the 90s, getting into magazines or stores would really be the only way to promote yourself.” Followers get in touch with Leigh on her Love Leigh Designs Facebook and Instagram pages to order pieces, and she even does some custom work on request.
“Now, with social media, smaller businesses and people like me can really grow,” says Leigh.
She also keeps up with trends for the younger crowd by checking in with her 12-year-old daughter, Ellie. “Chokers are really trendy for them right now and so are popular druzy hair ties that you can also wear as bracelets. (Both are perfect Hanukah gifts!)
“I kind of played around with jewelry before Ellie was born,” she says. “I made earrings and did a couple of shows, but I more toyed with it.” Then last summer, she decided to teach herself how to do more intricate work, showcasing her pieces at Temple Israel’s pop-up event that fall. “I’ve gotten a lot of really good feedback, and it’s been great.”
Leigh has no desire to grow her business at the moment, preferring to take things slowly and maintain the handmade care and quality of her work. “I love accessories because you can gain weight, lose weight and it doesn’t matter. Purses, shoes and jewelry are universal, but I just love jewelry!”
Leigh’s designs can be found at The Women’s Exchange, the Beautiful Soul Boutique, La Maison and The Truffle Pig. She’s also done some parties at friends’ houses. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook to find out about shows and pop-ups.
*In geology, druse, also known as drusy or druzy, refers to a coating of fine crystals on a rock fracture surface, vein or within a vug or geode. Druse occurs worldwide; the most common is perhaps quartz druse within voids in chert or agates.