BY Courtney Houston

Beguiled by gemstones precious metals or vintage finds this coterie of local custom jewelry makers possesses the clout to craft whatever your heart desires.

Star Sosa
The path that opened is now set in stone.

Her career as a jeweler began in California where she helped manage a wholesale jewelry studio which led to traveling to cities like Sausalito and Santa Fe New Mexico as a sales representative. After ultimately designing for the collection Sosa settled in Wilmington North Carolina.

“Its been the best move I could ever make ” she says. On the threshold of her 15th anniversary in the city Sosa and Spectrum Art and Jewelry Gallery at The Forum are well known throughout the community. “We see a lot of people who have homes on Wrightsville Beach Figure 8 Island and all along this side of the county.”

With a sculptural contemporary style each piece from her gallery goes through a meticulous creative process to ensure its uniqueness.

“Each piece is started as a wax sculpture specifically tailored to that gemstone. Then we cast it finish it and set the stone ” she explains. This method ensures a very body conscious sleek and streamlined fit.

“Im definitely not a traditional designer. I have a preference for yellow gold and I love unique colored gems bezels around stones and channel sets ” she says.

With the addition of Susan Drake full time designer and Scott Jones full time goldsmith Sosa says “We put everything together as a team.”

Mitzy Jonkheer
A love of nature is crafted into whymsical wearable works of art.

Having a last name like Jonkheer one cant help being original. With a family that has a history deeply rooted in working with nature Mitzy Jonkheer is already tuned in to the organic creative process.

The owner and designer behind the Jonkheer Gallery found inspiration for her own studio through an old black and white photograph she discovered of her grandfather who owned a tulip farm in Holland posing in front of his factory with the Jonkheer name displayed in huge letters across the buildings facade.

“Thats the reason I put my last name on the building ” Jonkheer says of her decision to brand her storefront near the intersection of Wrightsville and Kerr avenues.

Jonkheers style of jewelry and her many original designs feature insect wings pressed into silver and gold pieces and pebbles from Wrightsville Beach embedded into necklaces.

“I love nature I love wings I love leaves I love hearts ” Jonkheer says.

Jonkheers fan base is as unique and diverse as her one-of-a-kind pieces.

“They want something that speaks to them not just something they found at a department store ” she says. “They want something that suits their personal style and thats why they connect with me.”

Through a creative process that begins with an artistic sketch of the piece Jonkheers handmade jewelry is truly one of a kind. “When I sit down and make jewelry I will not make 50 things alike. I try to change them all just a little so each has its own flair but it still has my signature on it. Its still earthy and it still has that handmade look.”

From rings with childrens fingerprints as a gift to a mother to birthstones surrounded by inspirational words Jonkheer says “Thats what I enjoy most about my work making something that really means something to someone. Its a connection. I love to combine metals to mix gold with copper and silver all to create a new look. I have so many ideas I cant sleep at night!”

Kathy Babb & Virginia Colantuono
This dynamic duo raises the recycled arts to new levels.

Jewelry designers Kathy Babb and Virginia Colantuono the masterminds behind the babb-co brand incorporate finds from your discard pile into their ring necklace and pendant designs.

The idea stemmed from an art retreat that Babb attended in Washington. Upon returning home and sharing her newfound knowledge with Colantuono the duo decided to produce jewelry for the masses. Their main theme: using all recycled vintage products set in resin.

“The recycled goods we use make every piece one of a kind ” Babb says. “Its a way to give them a new use.”

With a line that includes the recycled elements found in childrens books stamps dictionaries and Christmas bingo and business cards the possibilities for unique designs are endless. With studios in both of their homes theyre never too far from work.

“I have customers coming over all the time ” Colantuono says. “Either theyll see the jewelry in stores or hear about it from another customer so they stop by to see the stock ” she explains.

With a fan base that has doubled since their start-up in August 2010 the designers appreciate all aspects of business from the retailers that carry their line including Airlie Moon to the frequent jewelry shows in which they participate.

Although the beach is great for business its also one of many sources of inspiration for the babb-co team.

“I love using little tiny shells in jewelry ” Colantuono says. “Its fun to do something with the shells besides putting them in a jar.”

Whether its their invention or a personalized piece Babb says “Its really neat to see a person discover something thats special to them.”