Katy Beh is no ordinary artist.
The Uptown resident combines her love of 22k yellow gold and, as she calls them, candi-licious gemstones to create pieces that are both unique and luxurious. The City of New Orleans is Beh’s inspiration, and it fuels the color and spirit of her jewelry.
Originally from Iowa, Beh studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and later at the Jewelry Arts Institute in New York City, where she honed her skills as a classical goldsmith. She opened Katy Beh Contemporary Jewelry on Magazine Street in 1998, and its closure in 2011 reignited her passion for making her own jewelry. Beh says she wants the people who wear her pieces to feel as happy as she did making it.
What inspired you to launch your own business?
At 29 years old, I was a know-it-all. I saw an unfulfilled niche in New Orleans for a retailer of fine contemporary jewelry. My father’s death two years before drove me to get busy with MY choices and life, right then and there. A bittersweet motivation, but nonetheless, the death of a parent is (duh) life-changing.
What’s been the most challenging part about growing your business?
Balancing being a mother and business owner. I opened my business five years before my son was born – it was my first baby. After becoming a mother, I felt a relentless tug of war between being with my son versus being at my gallery. I went back to work only 10 days after his birth – part-time, but still. Sam, now 15, came to work with me every day until he started crawling.
And the most rewarding?
I have the phrase “Leap and the Net Will Appear” as my screen saver. This explains a lot about me and my business – having the courage and drive to see my dreams realized. I’m still rather proud of myself for following my heart and gut to know it was time to go for it and launch my own designs.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry to make and why?
My Michelle Bracelet. I was so inspired and moved by Michelle Obama’s voice and presence, I named the piece for her. It’s also a favorite because I made it without thinking about whether and when it would get sold. When I finished it, I was gleefully happy about how amazing it came out, as well as how glorious it felt to make something that was so ME.
Katy Beh Jewelry, 504.237.8144. katybeh.com.