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Made in St. Louis: Pearls can be looped and draped
Made in St. Louis • Karen Daniels

Made in St. Louis: Pearls can be looped and draped



Age • 53

City • University City

Family • Husband, Tom; two grown children: Tess, 23 and Tommy, 20

What she makes • Karen is a jewelry designer and owner of Tess Jewelry Studio. She named her company after her daughter, Tess. She makes suede-wrapped strands of pearls. To view her items, visit To reach her, call 314-941-2429 or email Her items are available at 10denza, 44 Maryland Plaza in the Central West End and at Mister Guy Women’s, 9815 Clayton Road in Ladue.

Tell us about yourself. • I have worked in retail my adult life. I was in management at the Limited for 10 years, and worked at Vie (in the Ladue market) for 12 years. I left retail about three years ago and wanted to stay in the world of fashion, so I decided to build my business.

What type of jewelry do you make? • My pieces are pearls, hand knotted with suede. I use different colors of pearls and different sizes. I incorporate stones, turquoise, carved wooden beads and other findings. I try to find unusual things to add to the pearls.

Explain your pearl necklace? • Each one-of-a-kind piece is made with pearls and intended to be worn in multiple ways, whether wrapped, layered, tied, looped or draped. Tess Jewelry has a unique flair that mixes elegance with everyday, casual with chic.

How long are your pearl necklaces? • Most of my pieces are 43 inches long and are very labor-intensive.

Why pearls? • The whole reason I started making pearl necklaces, is because I love them so much and love to wear multiples. I have a jewelry box full of tons of accessories, but I grab my pearl necklaces over anything else.

Is this your full-time job? • Yes. I’m working hard to accumulate more retail stores. I love the process of making the necklaces, but I also love the retail side.

What are your prices? • My necklaces range from $240 to $300.

Do you have a favorite jewelry designer? • Yes. Miguel Ases is a favorite jewelry designer for chandelier earrings. Safia Day is another favorite, and I can mix her pieces in with mine.

Any hobbies? • I bike in Forest Park, and work out (at a gym) in Clayton. I try to walk to as many places as possible. I’m fortunate to have friends in Mexico and Colorado. I get to enjoy the beach and the mountains quite often.

What else do you make? • I also make leather collars with vintage pins with a friend of mine, Maryann Schwartz. They retail for $240 each and the collars can be found at 10Denza.

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Karen Deer is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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