Style Profile: Cresta Bledsoe JewelryJune 17, 2013
Shells, sand dollars, sea glass—these are things most of us scavenge for during summer beach vacations. But if you’ve spent any time exploring Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, you probably have more than a few fossilized sharks' teeth to your name.
Foraging for sharks' teeth is a local tradition, one that jewelry designer Cresta Bledsoe’s in-laws take seriously. Three generations of her husband’s family have vacationed in Ponte Vedra, and they have an impressive collection of fossils to prove it.
Bledsoe walking the beach in Ponte Vedra; wearing her 18k shark's tooth fossil and black diamond bib necklace.
When her husband’s grandmother passed away, Bledsoe inherited the matriarch’s lifetime collection. Her creative juices started flowing. “I thought, how amazing it would be to elevate this material into something more refined,” she says. “My husband’s grandmother was a very fashionable woman, so turning the fossils into jewelry felt like a great way to honor her.”
Bledsoe's 18k shark's tooth fossil and four-sided black diamond drop necklace with double chain: the 18k shark's tooth fossil and white diamond framework cuff.
The fossils are particularly prevalent in Ponte Vedra because of the beach’s location on Florida’s east coast at the mouth of the St. Johns River, whose sediment abounds with sharks' teeth. Churning waters and beach renourishment efforts constantly stir up and redistribute the relics onto area shores, making low tide an ideal time to hunt. Experts say some of them are between 10 and 50 million years old. “You can tell what locations they originally came from because they take the color of the minerals where they are fossilized," Bledsoe explains. Charcoal gray and black fossils typically come from South Florida, while lighter colors can be traced further north along the Atlantic coast.
18k shark's tooth fossil white diamond petit choker.
Bledsoe prefers the darker fossils, pairing them with satin-finished 18 karat gold—all recycled—as well as conflict-free diamonds. “I wanted the pieces to reflect the modern woman’s lifestyle,” Bledsoe says. “They are some of the oldest things you and I will ever touch. For me, they are a modern interpretation of the classic heirloom.”
18k gold shark's tooth and fossil station 32" necklace worn as a bracelet.
18k shark's tooth fossil stacked ring;18k shark's tooth fossil hoop earrings