When a woman wants to look gorgeous, she can turn to any number of talented jewelry designers. When she wants to look Drop Dead Gorgeous, there’s only one: Erica Courtney . The Los Angeles–based Courtney actually trademarked the phrase for her signature luxury line. “At my first few shows, I used three-word taglines to describe my collections,” she recalls. “When people visited my booth, they would point at my designs and say, ‘Drop dead gorgeous!’ I thought, why ever change it? Now it’s part of the name.” Read on to get to know the woman behind the flattering phrase.
Courtney’s Helyn bracelet, made from her mom’s necklaces
Age: Good question!
Number of years in the biz: 27 years
Number of employees you oversee: A fantastic team of 10 who are always busy
Family/pets: My beautiful son, Josh, gorgeous daughter-in-law, Jesse, and delicious grandbaby, Brooklyn
Describe your personal style: Jeans and a T-shirt or six-inch heels and fabulous—gorgeous jewelry either way
First piece you ever designed: I glued Swarovski crystals on a pair of cheap sunglasses.
The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: My pride and joy is the bracelet I designed using my mom’s necklaces. It’s called the Helyn bracelet.
Courtney’s Santa Maria aquamarine ring
Best piece of advice you ever received: Personally, stay out of the sun. Business-wise, there are always other ways to solve a problem.
Worst piece of advice: My mom told me I didn’t need to know how to cook. Not true!
First job ever: Selling potholders that my sister and I made when I was 9
How did you get started designing jewelry? When I made the sunglasses, people loved them, so my mom told everyone I was a jewelry designer. It was that simple.
If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? First choice would be traveling the world with my little Brooklyn. Second choice is creative marketing.
Jewelry you’re wearing right now: 33 ct. Santa Maria aquamarine ring with my initials on it, a gold pavé diamond “E” necklace, and the bracelet I made with my mom’s gold necklaces
How does your new QVC collection  complement your existing line? Research has proven that QVC is a major asset to the brand. It translates to every market.…
Also, QVC is costume jewelry—a whole different ballgame.
Five items on your desk right now: Sketchbook, five Paper Mate pens, laptop, pictures of Brooklyn, and my feet
Five bands on your playlist: Kid Rock, Guns N’ Roses, Audioslave, Adele, George Strait
Exercise regimen: Pilates
What did you have for breakfast? Honey Sunshine cereal with almond milk and a venti Sumatra coffee from a Starbucks Clover machine
Guilty pleasure: Mob Wives and red velvet cupcakes that I bake from scratch
Drink (daytime/evening): Starbucks coffee, water, wine. In that order.
Scent: Neutrogena sunscreen. People tell me I smell great, which makes me giggle.
Book you’re reading: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell—awesome!
Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde
Books you’ve been meaning to get to: The French Blue by Richard W. Wise, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Main means of transportation: American Airlines and Maserati Quattroporte
Favorite movie: My son, Josh, and I watched Raising Arizona about 100 times.
Who would play you in your life story? Faye Dunaway circa Bonnie and Clyde
Personal motto: Live and love life!