Haley Keisler Holzworth, jewelry designer
When she inherited a collection of costume jewelry while at Moultrie Middle School, Haley Keisler Holzworth
saw a gold mine—of opportunity. She took the pieces apart and reassembled them into her own creations. “We wore uniforms,” she explains, “so it was my way of expressing my style.” Soon, she began making accessories for friends and family, then she started selling the necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Next came home parties and booths at art shows, and soon she was picked up by area boutiques. Eventually the University of South Carolina business school grad opened an online shop, built a studio in a warehouse, and in 2017 opened Hermosa
in Mount Pleasant, across the street from her grade-school alma mater.
As of today, Haley has worked on some 140 weddings, and says about 10 percent of her total business comes from custom orders for brides and bridesmaids. With all that under her belt, when she got engaged to photographer Nick Holzworth, a fellow Lowcountry native, of course she set out to design exquisite pieces for her and her maids to wear on the Big Day.
So who better to tell you how to commission handmade pieces than Haley? No one! Read on for her savvy tips and check out the gallery to see what she made for her wedding party.
Charleston Weddings: You say you always knew you wanted to wear pearls on your wedding day. Did you start there or with the dress?
Haley Keisler Holzworth: I needed to know my neckline and my gown’s embellishments before I could start designing, so I found my dress, a Martina Liana from Gown Boutique of Charleston first.
CW: What led you to create the pieces you did?
HKH: For my jewelry, I wanted to make a statement but I also wanted to add a sentimental touch. I had a multi-strand pearl necklace of my grandmother’s (I had made it for her but received it back after her passing), so I took it apart and added pearls my mom had given my grandmother, a strand of freshwater keshi pearls to add texture, and vintage Swarovski crystals for a little sparkle. A necklace wouldn’t work with the bridesmaids’ dresses since they were convertible and had different necklines, so I chose earrings and bracelets for them. I made a seven-strand necklace of abalone, freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals, and faceted mauve jade for my sister, the maid of honor. (I also made her a three-strand freshwater peacock pearl bracelet with a vintage Italian crystal clasp from the 1970s.)
CW: What’s the price range for comparable pieces?
HKH: The bridesmaids earrings would retail for $75, the bracelets $98. My necklace would retail for approximately $350.
CW: What advice do you have for brides who want custom jewelry but are concerned about pricing?
HKH: Weddings are expensive, but handmade jewelry doesn’t have to break the bank; plus, it can be something you, your best friends, and family can continue to wear and enjoy after your wedding. So I would advise them to first determine a budget (or an idea of what they want to spend) and come in. Another thought? I ask my brides if they have any old family jewelry that we could use to add a sentimental touch. For example, if you have a broken strand of your grandmother’s pearls, we can turn those into a double-strand bracelet with a beautiful clasp and earrings you can wear on your special day.
CW: What is the ordering process like?
HKH: I acquire the details such as the wedding date, how many bridesmaids, photos of the dresses, colors and theme of the wedding, and budget. Then the bride comes to the shop and we look at my ready-made jewelry for inspiration before heading into the studio to lay out designs and select the stones and findings (clasps, ear wires, accent beads). Then it is time to move to production. After everything is made, I package and gift wrap the jewelry and it is ready to go. If a bride is out of town, the process can be done over email or the phone; I send photos of samples until we have figured out the perfect design.
CW: How far in advance should you order?
HKH: At least four to six weeks in advance. I can accommodate rush orders though.
CW: What price range can a bride expect?
HKH: Depending on what kind of jewelry she decides on, I would estimate earrings range from $30 to $75, bracelets from $75 to $120, and necklaces from $40 to $300. Most brides choose earrings for their bridesmaids that range from $30 to $40. And bulk orders normally net discounts.
CW: Is discounting for bulk or multiple orders the industry norm?
CW: Do you still wear your jewelry?
HKH: Absolutely! I will wear it the rest of my life. It reminds me of my grandmother and of my and Nick’s wedding day, which was the best day of life. My family and wedding party have also told me how much they’ve worn their pieces and how that reminds them of our special day.
Check out these other local jewelry designers who welcome custom orders.
): local sea glass and found porcelain crafted into 14K gold pieces
Catie Curran Designs
): innovative statement hair accessories, necklaces, earrings, and more in stunning iridescent colors
Dee Ruel Jewelry Design
): dainty looks festooned with semi-precious stones
): rough-hewn gold jewelry with an organic flair and precious stones
): goldsmith specializing in small batch fare and custom works
Lina Rosa Jewelry
): Hand-beaded geometric earrings in a variety of hues and patterns
): beaded tassels, gold-framed stones, and other embellished earrings and necklaces