Meet Jewelry Designer Jody Candrian

Southern baubles with a Southwestern twist

Photo: Thayer allyson Gowdy

Cuffs featuring stones such as Sleeping Beauty turquoise.

Jody Candrian grew up in Arizona, where the sweeping, heroic landscapes got into her soul. That influence is immediately evident in the Charlotte, North Carolina, resident’s jewelry line—bold, almost architectural brass and silver cuffs, along with daring bolos and other necklaces, all adorned with vibrant polished stones such as malachite, amethyst, and azurite.

Candrian had been working in fashion in New York for a few years when she got the itch to start her own business. On a visit back to the Southwest in 2006, she stopped by a gem and mineral show, and was enchanted by the intricate patterns and striking hues on display. “The stones moved me,” she says. So she began designing jewelry with the minerals—eye-catching pieces that weren’t content to linger as backdrop, but elbowed their way front and center. “What women love about cuff bracelets,” she says of one example, “and why they have been popular since the early Egyptians, is that they can make the wearer feel distinctively powerful and strong. Like they’ve adorned themselves in armor for the day simply by wearing a cuff.”

Photo: Thayer allyson Gowdy

Candrian wears a Turkish-stick-agate bolo necklace and cuffs from her fall

Relocating to New Orleans, where Candrian’s now husband often went for work, proved an artistic turning point. Surprising both him and herself, she had suggested they pull up stakes and move there. She instantly loved the Crescent City, and its complicated textures and rhythms began influencing her work. “It’s just this explosion of color,” she says. “The Mardi Gras Indians and the swamps—they were such a huge inspiration.” Designing in the South also sharpened her eye for refinement and elegance. “Women of the South understand and appreciate the boldness and the individuality of the pieces,” Candrian says. “They love to mix colors, textures, and patterns.”

Her Instagram feed serves as an ever-evolving mood board, where she often posts photos of her muses: a Neapolitan ice cream sandwich, Dolly Parton’s hair, Wonder Woman. (“And I love Aaron Neville,” she says.) Regardless of where she starts, the route invariably leads her to the stones, which she acquires from mineral vendors around the world, buying some polished and others still in the rough. “I may have a color story in mind for a collection, but my selection is always based on an immediate magnetism I have toward the stones,” she says. “It may be the unique color composition, the shape, the markings, or simply the energy they emit. The hunt for new stones is always such a thrill.”

After she chooses a stone, Candrian sketches a design. For the cuffs and bolos, she collaborates with Native American artisans in Arizona and New Mexico, who craft the metalwork. She assembles the bolos and creates the stone necklaces, start to finish, in her studio. “With so many goods mass-produced these days, I am very proud of the fact that each piece of my jewelry is one of a kind and made carefully and mindfully by hand,” she says.

The last two years have been filled with transitions for Candrian—she got married, had a daughter, and then made another move last year. She and her husband again followed job opportunities—this time to Charlotte, where she already enjoys an enthusiastic fan base: Laura Vinroot Poole, the founder of Capitol, a celebrated luxury boutique in the city, has long carried Candrian’s pieces. “I wear Jody’s jewelry often, and it’s the only jewelry that people try to bribe me to take off of my body and give to them,” Poole says. “The pieces are truly mesmerizing and covetable.”