Jewelry designer Teresa Young crafts wearable art.

Teresa Young’s career path starts with a necklace. And it wasn’t one that she made or wore. About a decade ago, she saw a young woman making a necklace, and was completely taken with it. She thought, “I can do that.”

“I had my aha moment,” she says. So she ran out and bought supplies: some beads to make necklaces. She took to YouTube and started teaching herself to make jewelry. The next project: a slab of sterling silver she spent $400 on. “I thought, I have to do something with this now,” she says.

She’s gotten good at it. Really good. Now, she makes jewelry as a full-time career from her home in Culloden, which allows her to take care of her 30-year-old son, Matthew, who has Down syndrome. She’s a Tamarack artist whose work is sold at the Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Huntington Museum of Art, festivals around the state, and on her website. She also maintains Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages under her business name, Teresa Gail Designs. This fall, she has events at Etsy West Virginia and J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works.

When she started making jewelry, Young was pretty much only making jewelry for special occasions, like proms and weddings. Her client base has grown, as have her designs and materials. She uses sterling silver, copper, bronze, and brass and incorporates polished gemstones. From sterling silver dogwood flowers etched with exquisite detail to vibrant copper enamel earrings to sterling silver and pearl necklaces with uniquely designed pendants, her designs are wearable art.

Asked to describe her style, she takes a second to think, before laughing. “I have a vast array of styles,” she said. “I love rustic, contemporary, modern. I do it all.”

The hardest part of life as a jewelry artist? She says, “Balancing the time between making, selling, and taking care of Matthew.” The best part? The customers.

This summer, Young was selling at Symphony Sunday in Charleston when a woman walked up to her and said, “I love everything here.” The customer couldn’t decide which piece to buy. “It just confirms yeah, I’m doing the right thing,” Young says.

Written by Kate Mishkin
Photographs courtesy of Kelli Dailey

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