Julia Gardner: Jewelry Maven With A Heart

June 7, 2024
4 mins read

In the universe of fashion, a small college town in Central Texas might not be where you would expect to find a style icon, but Julia Gardner, Co-Founder of David Gardner’s Jewelry, is a true Texas luminary. A connoisseur of grace, she draws inspiration from icons like Coco Chanel and Princess Katherine, whose timeless allure mirrors her own. “They both embody grace,” she muses, a quality she aspires to, acknowledging with a hint of self-deprecating humor, “especially admirable for someone like me that can be quite spastic.”

By Michael Satterfield. Creative Director Jennifer Satterfield. Photography by Lucas Kepner

Julia Gardner of David Gardner's Jewelry stands in a doorway at her home in Bryan, Texas.

Gardner’s journey to becoming a formidable force in the jewelry industry was paved with faith, desire, and unyielding resilience. “Faith to keep going when you want to give up, desire to stay relevant, not afraid to work hard and sometimes fail,” she reflects, revealing the pillars that underpin the success of David Gardner’s Jewelry brand. The company, known locally as DG, just celebrated its 40th anniversary, and Julia’s influence can be seen in the jewelry design and the overall style of the brand.

So why the jewelry business? For Gardner, it’s a tale interwoven with love and creativity. “David’s love for design and passion for making customized pieces is contagious,” she shares, referring to her husband. “I’ve really hated that I have to be his muse and model for some spectacular designs over the last 40 years,” she jests with affection. While she might inspire David’s designs, she also helps refine them. David, Julia, and the entire DG team spend hours working collaboratively to finalize the timeless jewelry designs. While the pieces might be beautiful, spend any time with Julia and David, and you will quickly learn that the meaning behind the piece they create comes first, and they are simply telling that story through the medium of wearable art.

Julia Gardner in classic Corvette, Bryan/College Station Texas.

While the world of fine jewelry and watches is exciting, Julia’s philanthropy work is where her heart beats loudest. “Philanthropy is so important to me and DG,” she emphasizes, recounting years when financial constraints led them to donate their time as volunteers, serving on committees and boards. “Our heart for philanthropy is a response of faith – meeting a need someone can’t meet on their own.” This philosophy permeates the culture at DG; you will find it hard to be at a charity event in the Brazos Valley and not run into a member of the DG team.

Scotty House, an organization dedicated to safeguarding abused children, is one charity that she is particularly involved with. “It beautifully and tenderly fills a growing need for children who are being abused,” she expresses, her voice filled with empathy. “It brings all the right professionals and caregivers together for the welfare of a child that is in desperate need of advocates for their safety.”

Julia Gardner in her home in Bryan/College Station.

Gardner’s persona is an eclectic fusion of sophistication and whimsy. “My daughter and I often refer to ourselves as Lucille and Ethel,” she said.  Her admiration for Lucille Ball echoes in her fondness for mischief, while her reverence for Elizabeth Taylor’s classic allure permeates her personal style. Julia’s sense of style is one that you could see her walk off the end of a Paris runway only to directly jump on the back of a Harley Davidson and ride off into the sunset. “Jewelry – most likely in layers,” she quips, describing her penchant for adorning herself with ornate baubles. “I’ll keep stacking rings until my finger can’t bend.”

When reflecting on the next big trend in jewelry, she said, “Jewelry with a story – everyone wants something unique that reflects their personality and lifestyle and tells their story.” The ability to truly create personalized jewelry has been a hallmark of DG for decades; not only do they design the jewelry in-house, but they have the unique ability to make it on-site, so customers can watch as their story becomes a sketch, then a wax or 3D printed proof, and finally shaped in precious metal. “I never grow tired of watching someone see their custom piece of jewelry for the first time, as they explore the design and find the little details that translate to deep and personal meaning to them,” Julia said.

Julia sitting in her husband David's design studio, for over 40 years she has been his muse and inspiration.

In a world and industry that is always trying to define what a woman should be, Julia encourages women to embrace who they are. “We spend too much time trying to be like someone else,” she says, “we were all created to be the most beautiful when we know our worth and own our unique identity.”

Julia’s message resonates with many women, empowering them to embrace their individuality and celebrate their unique qualities. In a society filled with unrealistic standards, Julia’s words serve as a reminder that authenticity and self-acceptance are the keys to genuine beauty and fulfillment. Her other advice is to learn to laugh at yourself and to not take yourself too seriously.

Amidst her bustling life, which takes her to New York, Paris, and Geneva, Gardner finds respite in the quaint charm of Bryan/College Station, a place she affectionately calls home. “It is the perfect mix of small-town friendliness and big-city amenities,” says Julia, who has watched the community and their business grow and evolve over the last 40 years; many of those memories are punctuated with a piece of jewelry in her collection. 

Julia Gardner in stands on her back patio in Bryan/College Station.

You never really know where you will find Julia, one day she will be in the office leading the marketing team at DG, the next she and David will be scouting unique stones in the Southwest, and a few days later she will be in Switzerland attending a watch trade show. No matter where you run into her, her sartorial sense ensures she stands out. In the tapestry of Julia Gardner’s life, each facet gleams with an understated brilliance, reflecting the adornments she inspires and the generosity and grace that define her essence.

Read More About Julia here…

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