Think Outside The Jewelry Box: 10 Handmade Jewelry Designers To Watch

If you’re stuck in the winter doldrums, try something sparkly. I’ve discovered some incredible jewelry designers in the Upper Midwest and the prairie provinces of Canada during my travels over the last few years. Somewhere along the way, I became a collector.

You can’t beat jewelry as a souvenir. It’s small, portable and you can wear it right out of the store. I like that I can support a local business and a local artist with one purchase and take home an item that resonates with me long after my trip (be it to another country or my favorite neighborhood) is over.

Quality, handmade jewelry is a work of art. These unique pieces are handcrafted from everything from gemstones and precious metals to leather and glittering crystals, so there’s something that works for everyone’s taste and budget. If you don’t find something you love, the designers can create a custom order just for you.

Some of these shops are my favorites. If you’ve ever stopped me and told me you like something I’m wearing, chances are it’s from one of these stores. Some are still aspirational, spots where I’m musing about the perfect custom design or dreamily scrolling through their Instagram feed because everything is just so darn pretty.

Here are some of my favorite shops and designers to help you add a little local color to your jewelry box this season. Don’t forget to tell me about your favorite designers and shops at the comments below!

Aerow Handmade
Lexie Rundquist’s jewelry line includes subtle earrings and dramatic agate necklaces, but the rings featuring jasper, polished amethyst, turquoise, opal and sea glass are especially stunning. These are some of my favorite stones and I love that rich copper color.

Wear one as a statement piece or layer for some serious drama. Find your favorites at Unglued in Fargo or online at

Michele F Designs
This Minot boutique is one of my favorite spots in North Dakota. Michele’s designs are a glitter bomb of boho goodness, featuring tough chains, sparkling Swarovski crystal, dreamy moonstones, tanzanite and other semiprecious gems.

The chunky, geo agate slice necklaces are funky and music festival friendly, while the layered necklaces are both feminine and a little gritty. That’s pretty much my style in a nutshell.

Liz W. Designs
Liz Walberg’s graceful, hand forged sterling silver, copper, bronze creations are staples at C. Lizzy’s, the downtown Fargo shop that she runs with her daughter.

NDSU fans (and wildlife enthusiasts) will like the dangling earrings and chunky bracelets adorned with tiny bison. I’m fond of the delicate cross necklaces and earrings and Liz’s other simple, layerable necklaces.

Manitoba designer Alexandra Tumanov’s rings of delicately twisted gold and silver and gorgeous moonstones, pearls and even diamonds are inspired by the curves of designs found in nature. I bought a stunning tree ring with a single pearl at the Winnipeg Folk Festival this summer and I’m a little obsessed with it.

As an added bonus, her business is environmentally sustainable and uses recycled materials. Shop online at

Annika Kaplan Jewelry
I found this gorgeous moonstone ring by Annika Kaplan Jewelry at Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis a few years ago and it’s been on my finger ever since. (The designer was super patient as I tried on a million twisted silver rings to go with it before finally deciding!)

I love her tiny, mis-matched stud earrings, cool, made to order hairpins and pretty, subtly eye-catching jewelry made of sterling silver, brass, 14kt & 18kt gold, and semiprecious gems. I clearly need to buy a few more pieces! Shop at events in the Twin Cities or online at

521 Handmade
This Fargo shop is best known for cute pillows and other home goods, but these super sparkly druzy stud earrings are such a fun find. They’re great on their own and look pretty dramatic when paired with a matching silver or rose gold colored clutch.

You can find yours online at or at Burlap Rustic Chic Boutique and Unglued in Fargo.

J. Rose Designs
Designer Julia Knutson’s aesthetic is equal parts bohemian and tough — think beaded wrap bracelets, delicate midi knuckle rings and cool stud earrings made from bullets and fiery Swarovski crystal. (How do I not own a pair of these yet?!?!)

I basically live in my lariat tassel necklace by J. Rose Designs and I just ordered a leather tassel too. Julia’s also working on a cool wrap bracelet for me. I can’t wait to see it! You can order your own pieces at or shop in person at Parisien Hair Studio and The Green Room in Fargo.

Cari Ann Golden is a free spirit and that shines through in the bold jewelry she creates. The Fargo designer makes funky, cutting edge resin and gemstone jewelry for customers who aren’t interested in looking like everybody else.

Her bold pendant necklaces and drop earrings make a statement, but her rough-cut gemstone studs just might be my favorites. Find Wuve at Vintage Point and Unglued in Fargo, Red Brick Boutique in Ottertail, Minnesota and online at

Larissa Loden
This Minneapolis-based line combines vintage elements, classic shapes and more than a little dark and quirky imagery for an elegantly edgy look. If you’ve ever wanted pretty jewelry that features beetles, handcuffs and tough little daggers, this is the shop for you.

Even casual jewelry fans might recognize Larissa’s popular map lockets and pendants, which are available at stores around the region. The selection is focused on the states and cities around the store (Unglued in Fargo stocks destinations in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, for example) but custom orders (and the full line of non-map jewelry) are available at

MBMB Made by Michelle Brusegaard
I seriously should own stock in this company. Minneapolis artist (and former North Dakota resident) Michelle Brusegaard offers all kinds of screen-printed goods that I also love, but her printed leather earrings are my favorite addiction.

Featherweight and seriously durable, they come in a variety of colors and styles. I get compliments every time I wear them. (And I have a lot!) You can find them at Unglued and at

What about you?
Which of these designers is your favorite?
What’s on your jewelry wish list for the season?
What’s your go-to piece of jewelry?
Have you ever had a piece of jewelry commissioned?

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