Raleigh woman turns vintage pieces into bold jewelry

CorrespondentOctober 10, 2012 

Courtney L. Bell uses vintage necklaces, brooches and other jewelry and reworks them to create new pieces.


Several years ago, Courtney Bell ran into a problem that many women have faced. In her mind’s eye, she had an idea of a charm bracelet with seashells that would be the perfect accompaniment to her summer wardrobe, but couldn’t seem to find a piece in reality that fit the bracelet she’d imagined. So, she decided to make it herself.

The bracelet ended up being such a hit among her family and friends that she began to make them pieces and eventually started her own line, Courtney L. Bell Jewelry.

Bell uses vintage necklaces, brooches and other jewelry and reworks them to create new pieces.

“I grew up in a family with a passion for vintage cars, vintage airplanes and basically anything that was old,” says Bell, who’s based in Raleigh. “It gave me an appreciation for the fabulous workmanship of craftsmen of years ago.”

Bell’s pieces are bold, with big jewels, beads and vivid colors. But they also have a femininity that recalls the glamorous era of the 1940s and 1950s. “Vintage jewelry has a softness and subtlety that is only achievable over time,” she says.

For now, Bell’s pieces are only available at Lavender and Lace (1902 Bernard St., Raleigh) and through private trunk shows (see to schedule). But even with a limited distribution, her pieces are finding their way onto the necks and wrists of women all over the Triangle.

“I was at a charity event and got on the elevator with a woman wearing an absolutely stunning large rhinestone brooch on a double strand of Keishi pearls,” she says. “We laughed because I realized it was one of my pieces – I was on cloud nine all night!”

Diamonds and pearls

Saks Fifth Avenue has two big jewelry shows coming up. On Oct. 11, the store hosts a Cartier watch trunk show from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served in the evening from 6 to 8. On Oct. 17-18, the store welcomes jewelry designer Ron Hami to preview pieces from his fall collection. To schedule an appointment for the shows, call 919-792-9100, ext. 5318.

Getting wiggy with it

The Duke Cancer Patient Support Program salutes those who’ve lost their hair during cancer treatments with the Big Wig Out Oct. 12. The event, 7-11 p.m. at Bay 7 of the American Tobacco complex in Durham, will celebrate the self-expression of oncology patients by inviting them and other guests to dress in their best “celebrity” costumes. Prizes will be awarded for best individual and group costumes. Tickets are $75 and include food, drinks, entertainment and more. Proceeds benefit the organization’s oncology self-image program, which distributes wigs, scarves and hats to patients who’ve lost their hair. For tickets and information, call 919- 684-4497 or

The way we wore

As part of N.C. State’s 125th-anniversary celebration, University Theatre presents the “What We Wore” multimedia fashion show, featuring costumes and new and vintage clothing from the past 125 years. The show, at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 and 2 p.m. Oct 14 in Titmus Theatre at N.C. State, will include vintage pieces from the collection of University Theatre director and costume designer John McIlwee, pieces from costume collector Joan Degusto, works from Art to Wear 2012 and women’s wear from CT Weekends. Tickets are $5-$15, available by calling 919-515-1100 or at

Trunk’s still open

Dovecote boutique’s fall trunk show series continues with Wm. Coleman Mills Oct. 13-14. The Mississippi designer and artist creates scarves inspired by his own paintings. Dovecote is in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village. For more info about the show, call 919-542-1145.

A cut above

Ulta will cut hair for a good cause during their charity cut-a-thon Oct. 14. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., customers can get a haircut for a minimum $10 donation; proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Ulta has locations in Apex, Cary, Durham, Garner and Raleigh. For more information, visit

Send Stylin’ news and tips to

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service