Exceptional Designs

BY ERIN HOLADAY ZIEGLER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

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For Charleston artist Gabrielle Egan, jewelry isn’t just about sparkles and shine. “Jewelry is a reflection of who we are as individuals, instinctive and natural,” she says. “I create jewelry for women of all ages, styles and personalities.” This unique designer has found a home on lower King Street for her one-of-a-kind semi-precious stone and metalwork jewelry.

Egan opened up her boutique in April. She began designing jewelry over 11 years ago and has been surrounded by art her entire life. Egan’s studio, Peyton William Jewelry, is named for her grandmothers since each had a creative influence on Egan’s life.

Egan grew up an only child in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her parents frequently made the short drive from Cape Cod to Boston for art shows, auctions, classes and exhibits. “I used to wonder why we never went bowling like a normal family,” she laughs. “But now I appreciate my experiences with Renoir exhibits and music at local coffee shops.”

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Peyton William Jewelry Studio is also a family affair, with Egan’s husband, Brennan, managing Atelier Art Gallery next door. “It’s a nice balance,” Egan says. “I’m in the perfect setting to practice my passion and be surrounded by family. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Visitors to Charleston and locals alike have embraced Egan’s handmade work. Tourists love shopping the eccentric boutiques of lower King Street and purchasing items they can’t find at home. Charlestonians stop by weekly and take advantage of Egan’s custom work and personalized service. “I’ve had quite a few local customers coming in lately with old or damaged pieces wondering if we can do something new with them,” Egan says. “It’s nice to be able to incorporate a sentimental piece from the past into a new design.” With a workshop in the back of the gallery, Egan can occasionally make a fix on the spot.

Egan’s passion for designing handmade jewelry gives her artful pieces a distinct edge and quality. “I see something special, I get a feeling…and I know it’s right,” she explains. “There’s a lot of mass-produced jewelry out there, but there’s something special about wearing a piece that’s different from anyone else.”

Egan typically utilizes semi-precious stones, especially turquoise, instead of overly extravagant gems. While not averse to glitz, Egan’s work incorporates simplistic designs for the purpose of everyday wear and timeless style. “My designs are personal. It’s what I want to see,” she explains. “I like jewelry that sparkles, but I like stones to be in their natural state. “You should be
able to tell it’s a stone.”

Egan began her career representing artists by day and designing jewelry by night. “I was comfortable navigating art shows, selling designs and pricing work but never thought I’d be doing it myself,” she says. When Egan became pregnant with her first son, she took a break from oil painting and tried jewelry-making instead.

Wire wrapping, beading and looping evolved into complex design techniques and traditional metalwork training in Asheville, North Carolina. Egan sold pieces out of her own gallery in Asheville prior to the family’s Charleston move. “Once I started making jewelry, I was hooked,” she says. When she completed a large silver ring with a piece of turquoise she’d been holding on to for three
years, her fate was set.

“I was finally able to finish it with the skills that I’d learned,” she smiles. “It was the ring that I’d seen in my mind.”

What began casually has become Egan’s passion and fulltime career. “There’s instant gratification and endless creativity to jewelry making,” she explains. “Three people can have the same materials and come up with completely different designs.”

OTHER ARTISTS REPRESENTED

Peyton William Jewelry Studio carries other regional artists in addition to Egan’s pieces:
• Locally made stoneware from 21-year-old artist and Down syndrome patient Christian Royal christianroyalpottery.com
• Accessories that incorporate vintage and antique treasures from Alabama artist Michela Bruno Swafford madeinthedeepsouth.com
• Sculptural jewelry by Una Barrett, an artist from Portland Oregon.