“It’s gratifying to share my pieces with those who appreciate the bright colors and natural materials of my jewelry.”
Laura Kowler started making jewelry at the age of five when she starting collecting all sorts of glass and seed beads in Richmond. She grew up in a household strongly influenced by her mother’s interest in art, which inspired her love for color and design. Over the years, Laura dedicated free time to these creations and began selling work in high school to the shop at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In college in 2003, she sold to local boutiques in Athens, Georgia, under the name Aura Designs.
Laura’s work in the tropics, particularly in forests and with communities that depend on the forest and natural resources for their livelihoods, has inspired her work with seeds found in South American rainforests. The seeds reflect the colors and textures found in the forest, and they also represent sustainable harvested forest products. Tagua, also known as vegetable ivory, is the large seed or nut found in most of her pieces. It resembles elephant ivory and has become one of ivory’s sustainable replacement materials. Laura also uses the açai seed, which is another sustainable forest product; its berries are harvested several times a year, unlike the heart of palm which is harvested just once by cutting down the entire tree.