Christine Barbour wearing the garnet “dagger” necklace. Courtesy photo


Christine Barbour so vividly describes the artisan jewelry she designs and sells that her passion for her gemstone creations is palpable.

“Light, bright and sparkling, polished spinel nuggets in rose and violet dance between twists of 14K rose gold-filled wire. These earrings are for Cinderella-at-the-ball moments, something special for your wedding day, or just because you deserve beauty in your life,” she writes on her website, (dcb stands for her full name, Diana Christine Barbour), that went live in March. “This stunning garnet pendant looks like a chiseled metal dagger hanging just over your heart … Very fun to wear — it’s sexy, dangerous, and elegant, all at once,” reads another description.

Making jewelry is an unusual twist for this Indiana University political science professor and Bloom Magazine food columnist. But Barbour, 60, has had an infatuation with rocks since her childhood days of searching for beach rocks and poring over books about rocks and minerals. “I just love the color and sparkle of rocks. I like the way rocks look when they come out of the earth,” she says.

Barbour has transformed that fervor into her website-based jewelry business. She sells necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets created with authentic, natural, organic gemstones — not faceted stones. In Bloomington, her jewelry is available at Rebecca & Me. She also sells on Etsy and eBay and via social media. Her creations will soon be carried in a Chicago shop and eventually in Florida, where she intends to retire in a few years and sell from her renovated Airstream trailer on St. George Island.

Barbour says making her creations uses a whole different part of her brain than she uses to teach and write. “This is a lark — and I lose myself in it,” she says. “I’ve never done something that is art before.”

When she ventured into jewelry making, she sought good teachers, learning from Nancy Lee of Indianapolis, who wrote The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Metal Jewelry, and California jewelry artist Jennifer Dawes, who uses only recycled gold and responsibly mined stones.

Barbour says she is part of a small-scale jewelry production movement that’s concerned with sustainability. It’s a small but growing market segment that appeals to many young people. And the gemstones clearly speak to this Renaissance woman looking to harness the stones’ raw beauty into powerful, wearable art.