Jewelry designer Katy Beh stands out in a world filled with synthetic and faux, at a time when anyone can pick up bags of beads at a craft store and try their hand at designing. “I’m drawn to the real thing — the 22-karat gold and the precious gemstones,” she said of her passion for being a goldsmith and jewelry artist.
“What I do is take rare gems and work with wire and metal for hours to create a lasting thing of beauty.”
After growing up in Iowa, she studied jewelry design at the Rhode Island School of Design and made her way to New Orleans because of the culture of artists and designers here. She had a successful stint in retail with Katy Beh Contemporary Jewelry on Magazine Street, where she built a loyal clientele.
But the jewelry designs were not her own, and she began to feel the tug to get back to what she first studied — the unique art of being a goldsmith and working with precious stones.
“My customers would ask, ‘When are you going to put your own designs out there,’ she said. “I finally decided to do it and have never looked back. What I do now gives me such joy, I feel like I’m the jewel.”
Beh closed the store and returned to her roots. She honed her design skills at the Jewelry Arts Institute in New York, one of the few institutions left that teaches goldsmithing, she said.
Then, she returned to New Orleans to reconnect with her former customers.
Her jewelry is sold exclusively through katybeh.com and by appointment at her studio, which doubles as her home.
Beh said she alloys gold to create the soft hue of her 22-karat gold that holds the designs of gems from diamonds and topaz to peridot and tanzanite. “It’s no longer about just rubies and emeralds anymore,” she said. “There are so many beautiful gems with so many variations of color and size.”
Along with the vibrancy of her jewelry, she gravitates toward color in all aspects of her wardrobe. “I love color so much I have to be careful not to overdo it,” she joked.
“When you put those stunning colors in with that buttery gold it is just amazing. Colors of gems are like no other — they call them jewel tones for a reason.”
Click through the gallery below for a few of Beh’s favorite things: