When I was young, I’d sit and gaze at my grandmother when she would casually go about with her day. She always dressed proper, meticulously pairing delicate jewelry with her 50’s, straight-frame dresses. I remember vividly that she especially loved a pearl Trifari brooch that matched her sophisticated pearl necklace and earrings, and I was transfixed with the jewelry’s beauty. She would notice my interest in them, and though I was little, she would let me look through every piece she owned and help her pick out her jewelry for the day. When she’d sew, she’d pull out her box full of beautiful buttons; I would sit with her and carefully sort each of them, giving them individual names and taking in the beauty of how different they all were.
If it wasn’t my grandmother increasing my love for jewelry, it was my mother. Her favorite was a Swarovski vintage aurora borealis crystal set that I’d hold up in the sun and admire the way each crystal refracted the light. She had an entire collection of vintage jewelry. From Crown Trifari, to Napier and Coro, she helped my appreciation for their beauty grow. She gave me a silver ring with a small white pearl when I was very little, and to me this was a treasure worth a fortune. It may not have been real, but I didn’t mind. The beauty itself captivated me, and I wore it as often as I could. By the time I was 12, I received a delicate jewelry box with a ring that was set with faux pearls and a painted briar rose. This was only the beginning of a lifetime full of appreciation and love for jewelry.
The older I grew, the more I learned about the properties on metals in jewelry. Unfortunately, these properties are how I found out I was allergic to certain metals, and I was very sensitive to wearing specific types of jewelry. Even with hypoallergenic jewelry I had a reaction, and it became difficult for me to wear regularly. My appreciation for the complexity and beauty of every piece I had found or bought never faltered, even if I could not wear it myself. This was when my love for jewelry grew to more than just wanting to wear the pieces; I wanted to share, study, and create them.
In high school, I was given the opportunity to choose an elective that teaches the basics of jewelry making. I was instantly hooked and fully immersed in the process. My very first piece I created was a silver bezel ring with an amethyst stone. It taught me the skills of soldering, polishing metals, and how to set stones. I loved every minute of manufacturing this single piece, and it was then I knew that this was my passion. I dreamt of manufacturing, designing, and studying jewelry for a career, but life at the time had other plans. Instead, I became an electrical engineer. The skills I learned in this jewelry course taught me the basic understandings of the metal reactions and conductivity, and the soldering was a skill I used on a breadboard rather than jewelry.
In my free time, I’d still create jewelry, and found a new appreciation for beads. Of course, this was more like a pass-time like drawing or painting, but I began to produce enough pieces that it began to evolve into a small business. The theme of my pieces was grapes—specifically grape earrings. Because at the time I lived in Sonoma Country in Northern California, I had a successful time trying to sell my jewelry. Napa Valley was only less than 2 hours away, and with the plethora of wineries, they took well to my samples of the grape designs. Before I knew it, I was in Artisan Shops and Wineries within the two counties. It was commission, but not bad for a hobby. Some weekends, I was even sponsored by a company to hold a booth at a jewelry show to sell my custom creations.
Just as began my business, I realized how difficult being a mother with 4 children undertow was while maintaining my jewelry business. I eventually quit the shows, but I did continue with my commissions. My 3rd eldest child was diagnosed with several mental disorders, and I had to quit my day job to take care of him full-time. Doctor visits were frequent, and I was being run ragged. One of the doctors we visited told me to find a hobby to “down shift” from the stress of long days. Taking heed of his advice, I would sit and continue creating my jewelry late at night after my child would go to sleep. That advice was a life-saver; I would just put my head set on and go to work.
In 2005, the recession required my husband to move jobs from California to Colorado and we as a family followed him. Due to the economic complications, the Artisan shops in Napa Valley closed, and the wineries strictly changed to only selling wine. This gave me no other choice than to close my line and my small business while the country re-built itself. Though disappointed, I still kept up with my creations; I loved this profession too much to leave it behind with the economic issues.
My husband’s new job required him to travel frequently after we settled in Colorado, so I temporarily homeschooled the children so we could travel with him to several destinations across the states. Because I was away from my jewelry tools and creations, I’d visit thrift shops in hopes of finding unique jewelry. Chicago, New Jersey, and Texas were the first states we traveled, and each would sell beautiful pieces of jewelry for pennies on the dollar. The vintage looks, delicate designs, and gorgeous stones reminded me of my grandmother and mother. Memories of their lessons for appreciation and support for my love in jewelry would overcome me, and I began collecting the vintage brooches and jewelry I would find. Before I knew it, while we traveled, I was visiting thrift shops from coast to coast. I became well-versed in jewelry brands and discerning valuables from fakes that my collection increased its value substantially. Shortly after I found the deals at these thrift stores, they began to package the jewelry into large plastic bags weighing nearly 4 pounds per.
These bags were full of vintage and costume pieces I had never seen before. Because the children were homeschooled, we spent a large portion of our time in the local library of the city we were staying in at the time. I would give the kids their study subject, then I myself would find jewelry textbooks to see if I could find any pieces I pulled from the thrift stores. That was when I realized I had been naïve. I would originally take these pieces from the bags, and begin to take them apart to use the stones and beads in my own jewelry. Although, after those hours in the library studying, I found that I was dissecting 100’s of dollars’ worth of precious jewelry. Luckily, because of this information, I’ve become better in researching a jewelry piece before taking it apart—it may just be more worth selling than dissecting.
To this day, I make my own custom jewelry. I’ve created pieces for weddings, proms, holidays, and every-day wear. I have been personally collecting and researching the jewelry since 2005, and as of now I have finally gained enough inventory to sell (An entire room, floor-to-ceiling of inventory). I wished to collect these pieces and restore them to how they were. I care for them, replace missing gems, polish the metals, re-attach clasps, and give each piece my best effort. Other pieces, of course, have come in mint-condition and don’t need any repairs or improvements—which is why I have now come to sell to the wonderful jewelry community. I know others would appreciate every piece I have. My husband and I wish to travel when we retire, and our youngest has just started out on her own. I wish not to hang on to the jewelry, rather I believe it is now time for someone else to enjoy it.
My inventory consists of mostly costume jewelry. Of course, I’ve tried auctions to get a hold of semi-precious pieces, but found that I didn’t wish to continue with it. I simply didn’t have the budget, nor did I want to invest more time and space for the pieces. My husband and I will retire here soon, and it was him that mentioned the idea of opening my own jewelry shop. I considered opening an actual boutique in our area, selling to the locals and jewelry lovers and decorating it with as many ladybugs as my heart would desire. Sadly, after traveling within the state to individual small-business jewelry boutiques, we found most were struggling with business in-store. Each owner agreed that their sales online were more successful than in-person, and encouraged us to invest in a website rather than a shop.
So, now here I am. With the help of my youngest and my husband, Leona Moore Jewelry LLC. is online and ready to ship. Come on in and browse my little shop—find something that suits you and your loved ones, I promise you won’t be disappointed! I am not a pushy saleswoman, though I would like to sell as much of my inventory as I can. Creating this company has been fun so far, especially the opportunity to sift through the boxes of jewelry I have been collecting for 20 years, and continue to create my original jewelry and designs. I truly appreciate your business and hope you enjoy the pieces as much as I did! Thank you.
Special thanks to my husband, Clay Moore, for his support and humor, and to my daughter, Estell Moore, for helping me create this website and be the co-admin of my business.