The rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean ebb against the shore as we stand on a sandy, moonlit beach in Florida. Here is where we'll meet featured American jewelry designer, and Florida native Wendy Culpepper.
Culpepper loves a good beer, board games, traveling, reading, and cooking. She describes herself as a night owl, competitive, a workaholic, overly talkative and prone to stubbornness.
According to Culpepper she was born "naturally caffeinated - no coffee needed - with only two natural speeds: hypermode and off." In short, Culpepper is sass personified and all of that vitality spills effortlessly into her designs.
Naturally inventive, the vivacious 26-year-old (who is a cross between Valerie Bertinelli and Diane Lane) studied at the University of Florida Engineering and Fine Arts; in addition, she also studied metalworking and jewelry creation in Florence, Italy.
She increased her jewelry design education by attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York and completed its challenging design and bench jewelry program.
Upon graduating, Culpepper gained the distinguished honor of top design student and was subsequently employed by Me & Ro Jewelry as part of its production staff. It was here that Culpepper decided to start her own jewelry line, and in 2005, she did just that.
Inspired by spirituality, personal stories, Italy, outer space, and her hometown, Culpepper has designed distinctly individual collections providing vivid details for the motivation behind each of them. The Alligator Collection, Culpepper's first collection was inspired by the toothy predator from her Florida hometown.
Her affordable fashion jewelry collections made primarily with sterling silver, and 14-karat gold vermeil (silver with gold overlay) highlight arabesque cuff bracelets, luminous gemstone earrings, and delicate pendant necklaces.
Culpepper donates 15% of sale proceeds from her Ignite Collection to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Such household names as Rachael Ray, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Beals, and Catherine Zeta-Jones all wear Culpepper's lovely designer jewelry.
The combination of her energetic spirit, seasoned design skills, and heartfelt inspiration instantly drew me in. She seems like a force of nature.
NOTE: Per the product description tags from Culpepper's website, she states "after much thought and consideration, I will miss design. . .I am still doing custom pieces. . .At this time, I will be moving on to my next phase in life and no longer selling my jewelry."
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold Vermeil Alberta Earrings with Apatite
Photo 2 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold Vermeil Zahra Cuff Bracelet