Catching Up With Jewelry Designer Melinda Lawton

Earlier this week I put out a request for jewelry designers to send me some images of gemstone bead jewelry for a post I was writing (you can it read here). I was treated to so many beautiful options, many of which were provided by North Carolina–based jeweler Melinda Lawton.

I thought about choosing the one pictured at top—my favorite, with the luminescent opals—but then I saw one with pearls, a piece dangling an assortment of charm-like treasures, and an eye-catching collar of briolettes. I couldn’t not share them all. So what better excuse to catch up with a maker of beautiful things than to show off those creations? Below, a few words with Melinda Lawton.

Melinda Lawton Cleopatra necklace
Cleopatra necklace with citrine briolettes, rondels, and pearls, $2,500

How has the pandemic influenced your business? What are you doing differently?
I have a store, and I sell to galleries and stores around the country, most of which are in boutique hotels. Everything closed at the beginning and remained closed for several months. My galleries are starting to open, and I have only recently opened my store. During the pandemic I have been doing virtual appointments, in-store appointments, custom orders, and online sales. Instagram and Facebook have been the best performers in the online space for me, although I do also sell through my website.

Melinda Lawton morganite and pearl necklace
Necklace with morganite, diamonds, and pearls, $5,900

You use a lot of gemstone beads in your work. What do you like about them?
I have a love for all gemstones—they are what inspire all of my designs! I carefully and ethically source all of my gems, and I am very interested in the meaning and power behind all of them. Color, and the combination of beautiful gemstones, is also a very big part of my work.

Melinda Lawton Ethiopian opal pendant
Necklace in 14k gold with oval Ethiopian opal with Japanese baroque akoya keshi pearls, opals, Swiss blue topaz, and diamonds, $5,900

What’s your current favorite jewelry trend?
I feel that because of the pandemic, people have changed their approach to buying jewelry. They are looking for meaning and connection in what they purchase. I have been doing many special orders that have to do with the healing powers of gemstones. I also feel that my customers are especially drawn to handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that have a special connection for them.

Melinda Lawton tanzanite and moonstone pendant
Necklace in 14k and 18k gold with tanzanite, moonstone, diamonds, and pearls, $4,500

Have you purchased anything special for yourself during quarantine?
Just before the pandemic I designed and created a new line of vintage-inspired rings with beautiful gemstones and diamonds in 14k gold. I have decided that I must keep one that is near and dear to my heart! I guess you could say that is my special purchase for myself during these times.

Melinda Lawton lariat pearl sapphire
Lariat necklace with sapphires, Japanese akoya keshi pearls, and pearls, $2,500

The holiday shopping season is upon us. What is your advice to retailers getting ready to serve their customers during this unprecedented time?
I feel that the upcoming holiday season is going to be busy! People are so ready to treat themselves and the ones they love after having been pent up and separated for so long. Vacations have been canceled, lives have been on hold, and people are ready to celebrate the ones in their lives who mean so much to them. I also believe that online shopping will play a big part in sales during the holiday season.

Top: Teardrop pendant in oxidized sterling silver with Ethiopian opal and diamonds on a necklace of Ethiopian opals, $5,900; Melinda Lawton

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JCK Contributing Editor

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