-Photography by Travis Marshall
While you might not believe in the healing power of crystals, you can’t deny the magnificence of their beauty. At least, that’s what jewelry designer Kari Dern is banking on. At Become Spellbound, she uses the earthly elements for striking design—large chunks of sparkling crystals hand-sculpted into a pendant with an adjustable leather necklace. “I don’t want it to look like a necklace, but something that makes you look like a superhuman,” Dern says. We chatted with Dern about starting her own business and the power of crystals.
How did you get into being a jewelry designer?
I was living in Manhattan, developing [a jewelry-making] process as a hobby for myself, and I found out I’d be moving back to Baltimore for my husband’s career. Once I knew that, it made a lot of sense to take the leap of faith to give this a shot. I began to roll out these [necklaces] on Instagram, and people bought them. It was scary. It was slow when I first started. But it ramped up gradually, and now I feel like I don’t have enough time to create. It felt as if the universe was saying, “Yeah, duh, you knew you were supposed to be doing this.” The funny thing about it was that I [just] wanted to create these things, not be a business owner, but here we are! It started going well, and I launched the website in 2018.
What led you to decide to use crystals?
I wanted to wear them all the time. I’m a big fan of crystal jewelry. And years ago, the things I would wear and buy, as much as I loved them, I felt like I wanted something that pushed the boundaries a little more, something that had a wilder feel.
Does each necklace have a particular meaning?
Each crystal is tied to a certain element and also aligns with one or more of the chakras. I do feel like they each have their own vibration, and sometimes you connect with a crystal, sometimes you don’t. It might just be a thing that’s pretty and what you want to wear, or it’s the energy that you need. If you feel connected to the energies, that’s awesome. If you think it’s just something beautiful, that’s great, too. At the same time, who are we to say these are different things? If you think it’s beautiful, maybe you’re just drawn to the energy. I’m all about letting people have their own journeys.
What goes into creating the pieces?
I buy whatever crystal I love and what I’m drawn to. I do try to keep in mind the mentality of what everyone likes, but at the same time, I still will only buy what is beautiful to me. It’s trusting my intuition about what I like aesthetically and energetically and hoping it connects with someone else. I hand-sculpt [the casings] with a clay material. I may go back to [finish one necklace] over a few days, but it takes about four or more hours for each one. I really enjoy it.
Where can we buy Become Spellbound jewelry?
I have pieces in Wishbone Reserve located in Hampden, but generally, I mostly sell online. I have a few pieces in art galleries across the country, but online and on Instagram are where the people are interested, and they get it.