Local jewelry designer gets inspiration from her grandmother's pieces

CorrespondentDecember 26, 2012 

A necklace from Harper Vintage Modern.


As a child, Chapel Hill designer Wendy Perry didn’t need to look far to find a personal style icon. Her mother and grandmother rocked glamorous clothing and accessories that made a lasting impression on Perry.

“My GG (gorgeous grandmother) always wore the most remarkable jewelry,” says Perry. “Her jewelry always ‘made’ her ensemble. I was fortunate to inherit a few of her pieces – both as special as they are different.”

Perry’s heirloom jewelry does more than just accent her own glam outfits. It also serves as inspiration for her jewelry line, Harper Vintage Modern.

To create her jewelry, Perry uses vintage jewels, beads and crystals, along with new chains, clasps and settings to create sturdy, contemporary pieces with a vintage feel. Prices start at $42, with most pieces topping out at $100, although a few necklaces cost as much as $900.

“Vintage treasures are fragile and one-of-a-kind,” explains Perry. “I try to replicate that specialness in the jewelry that I make by hand. It would be difficult to wear a vintage necklace every day to work or out for a night of dancing – clasps and string already weathered from years will break. By taking a vintage look and translating it with new materials, it is still a handmade piece but with a sturdy lobster clasp and fresh wiring.”

So far, the collection has been a hit, picked up in boutiques in four states (including several in the Triangle, such as Scout & Molly, Bailey’s Fine Jewelry, Flaunt and Dress), and recently featured in Southern Living. Perry is enjoying the success, but taking her growing business one day at a time.

“Much to my engineer/MBA husband’s dismay, I have never had a business plan. I have been so fortunate to have special people and opportunities come up – I like to make good choices for me based on where I am in my life.”

The cotton is high style

Cotton Incorporated, the Cary-based cotton growers’ organization, and People StyleWatch magazine are on the hunt for America’s most stylish citizens with Cotton’s Road to the Runway competition. From 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Jan. 2, representatives from the campaign will be at the corner of Fayetteville and East Davie streets in downtown Raleigh for a street-style fashion shoot. Local fashionistas are encouraged to don their hottest cotton outfits and stop by to get their photo taken for the competition and a chance to win a $1,400 weekly prize. For more info, visit

A blank canvas

Each year, Vans shoes challenges high school students from around the nation to dream up new designs for their classic canvas sneakers. The Vans Custom Culture competition kicks off again on Jan. 2. High school art programs can register online at Once registered, each school will have a chance to customize four Vans shoe styles to fit four themes – action sports, art, music and local flavor. Entries will be judged and a group of finalists will be chosen for public voting in the spring. The top five schools will be flown to New York City for a final judging. Contest entry is open until Feb. 11.

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