If you’ve strolled down King Street, you’ve probably seen Croghan’s Jewel Box. The purveyor of fine jewelry was established over 100 years ago in an 18th century Charleston single house and has since grown to fill the entire building on King Street. But while all the fine jewelry and antique gifts are stunning on their own, it’s a particular (quite unexpected) line of jewelry that has people from all over the country flocking.
We’re talking golden palmetto bugs.
Behind the Goldbug Collection is Mariana Hay, one of the two sisters that have recently joined in the family business. At the ripe old age of 24, Mariana is making waves in the jewelry world with her fun and quirky take on a critter that most Charleston dwellers consider unsightly (to put it nicely).
Before the birth of the Goldbug Collection, Mariana studied art at Clemson, interned at The Met and studied at the Gemological Institute of America, but it was in her hometown that she found her source of inspiration. When trying to think of a jewelry line to create, Mariana says, “I went through about a million ideas and nothing really stuck with me. I grew up in this old house on Broad Street where my mom also grew up, and, being an old Charleston house, it sometimes has a few unwelcome visitors (cockroaches). I was instantly inspired to create a golden cockroach.”
So she did just that. Mariana learned to solder and fashion the palmetto bug into necklaces, earrings, and the like, and spent the first six months putting together the jewelry by hand at her dining room table.
She explains, “in today's world it seems that more and more of our customers are self-purchasing women, so we can really relate to them.” It’s with this fresh and fun approach that Mariana is changing the game and bringing new and interesting ideas to the world of jewelry.
And giving a century-old business the shake-up? Now that’s progressive.
Words by: Virginia Kerr
Photographer: Landon Neil Phillips
Stylist: Dalia Dalili
Hair/Make-Up: Bailey Bial
Photo Assistants: Jenny Kleiman, Kayla Morrisey, Kyle Victory, Gordon Keiter, and Erica Griffiths