Catholic-themed jewelry spreads the Gospel
By Nissa LaPoint
Unique Catholic-themed jewelry from Barbie’s Originals, which is based in Monument.
Local jewelry designers are putting their own faith-inspired interpretation on bling.
Barbie Henry’s conversion to the Catholic Church and recognition of God’s grace motivated her to turn religious items into colorful necklaces, golden bracelets and beaded jewelry designed for a night on the town.
She started her business, called Barbie’s Originals, in 1999 after a pilgrimage to Rome strengthened her faith and set her husband’s heart on fire, she said.
“I feel like I’m ministering to others (through my jewelry),” Henry said. “I knew I wanted to serve God and to thank him for this incredible trip.”
Henry, of St. Peter Parish in Monument, makes her jewelry at home and sells it at faith gatherings yearly such as the Living the Catholic Faith Conference in Denver and Steubenville of the Rockies youth event.
Home-based jewelry businesses have launched not only in Colorado but across the nation.
What started as a fun activity with their daughters, four mothers in Atlanta decided to expand their trendy Catholic jewelry into a touring business and home show, said co-founder of Catholic Bling, April Nagel.
“We were just doing jewelry with the girls and one thing led to another and we thought this would be a good business,” she said.
They took their grandmothers’ vintage pieces and purchased beads and stones from around the world to make necklaces and charms to custom designed pieces for weddings and items for men like cuff links.
As their business has expanded, the women hope that their daughters have learned more about their faith and will hold onto it, said Mary Voss.
“We wanted our girls to go away to college and still be excited about their faith,” Voss said.
The jewelry designers also found that their pieces offer an opportunity to discuss the faith.
Karen Fischer of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Loveland launched her business CJC Messages with the same mission: to bring the word of Christ to others.
When she discovered the crystal jewelry she wanted to purchase was too expensive, Fischer and her daughter, Victoria, began designing affordable pieces for women that had the same class and flash.
“I decided that if we’re going to do this, I want to spread the good news,” Fischer said.
Her specialized faith bracelets use various colored Swarovski crystals to each represent a different Bible verse.
She designs her jewelry to attract Catholics and unbelievers alike, she said.
“It gives an opportunity for us to share our faith,” she said about wearing Catholic-themed jewelry. “It’s also a personal reminder of what Jesus Christ has done for us, the love of our Lord and presence of our faith.”
She prices her jewelry made with semi-precious stones, pewter and sterling silver from $7 to $120. By offering affordable jewelry and donating proceeds to Catholic organizations, Fischer said she hopes the love of God will spread.
Both Fischer and Henry said they can make custom pieces for a special occasion or holiday.