In Design—Fashion Designers, Trendsetters

Southwest Sensations

Jewelry designer Laura Ingalls expresses her passion for Western culture with uniqueaccessories.

By Raquel Lynn

The desire to design runs deep in Laura Ingalls’ blood—fusing textures, colors and patterns to bring new jewelry to life makes her feel whole. Inside her Palmyra,Wisconsin, studio, the artist spends her days creating unique jewelry, putting a little bit of her soul into every piece she designs.

The Midwest might seem like an unlikely base for a Southwest-style designer, but Laurahas always been fixated by Western culture and it’s inspired her professional career.

“I’ve been collecting Western and Southwestern art and Native American things—like pottery, sculptures and jewelry—for years. I also have a huge collection of cowboy boots,” Laura said; as of her most recent tally, she’s is the proud owner of 29 pairs ofboots, including five perfectly crafted custom pairs.

In order to stay abreast of current trends in Southwestern fashion and collect fresh ideas, Laura makes frequent trips to Western states. Her travels bring inspiration and new energy to her designs.

Sensational Stones

Turquoise is synonymous with Western jewelry, and silver bangles and rings dotted with the aquamarine stones gleam against Laura’s own fingers and forearms.

“I love, love, love turquoise!” Laura said. “It looks great on anyone.”

Turquoise owns a place of prominence in Laura’s designs, with good reason, but the rainbow-hued Boulder opal will forever hold a place in her heart. She first spotted the iridescent stone while attending her first gem show in Tucson, Arizona, and remembers being immediately captivated by the glittering stones—each one unique with varying pigments of coral, azure, plum, crimson and green.

Though the unique stones weren’t on her original shopping list, Laura found herself magnetically drawn back to them. She finally caved and purchased 15 splurge-worthy opals from Queensland, Australia. The stones spoke to her customers, too—Laura’sdesigns with the precious gems sold out almost instantly.

“I can’t tell you how many opals I’ve used to design Southwest-style necklaces and, now,bolo ties,” Laura said. “I think that’s what sets me apart from some of the other artists.”

Sonoran Sunset, a turquoise-and-crimson semiprecious gemstone flecked with veins of black iron, is another one of Laura’s favorites. It adds vibrant flair to feminine bolo ties, earrings and statement pendants.

“This is a really cool stone, but it’s becoming rare and harder to find,” she said.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2019 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.


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