The Globe-Trotting Artist 

Carol Barrett, Jewelry Designer

From Gentry Magazine, January 2009

By Emily Heitmann

“I was born in Pennsylvania but my dad was in the navy, so I grew up around the world - Hawaii, Italy, and Spain to name a few,” says Carol Barrett, the creative mind behind Carol Barrett jewelry. But it was her worldly travels through Asia that explain her unique necklaces with exotic embellishments like dragons carved in jade. “I came across these beautiful trinkets in a small store in Asia,” Barrett recalls. “But I didn’t want to have them just lying around the house, so I decided to make necklaces out of them.”

In the beginning, Barrett’s life was going in a more socially pragmatic direction. After graduating from high school in Virginia, Barrett pursued a medical degree from UC Berkeley. Since she had always excelled in ceramics, painting and mosaics, her dad had (uncommonly) hoped she would pursue a major in art. “But I had an equal love for science and medicine,” Barrett explains. A degree in Biochemistry followed before Barrett accepted a job at Stanford Hospital researching breast cancer. She then left to become a mother to three girls and an active volunteer for PTAs and town commissions. But her creativity could not be contained, and on the aforementioned trip to Asia, her career path took a quick turn.

Soon, women everywhere began stopping her on the street, wanting to know where she purchased her beautiful necklaces, most notably a saleswoman from Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco. “She asked if I had any more of my pieces on me because a buyer from Saks happened to be in the store that day,” Barrett recalls. She did, and so began Carol Barrett Jewelry.

Fast forward 20 years, and Barrett continues to incorporate intricate Asian trinkets into wearable works of art that easily transition from day to night. She draws her inspiration from nature and the season’s hottest runway collections. “My pieces have a classic influence with a contemporary flair,” Barrett explains.

And after taking a glimpse at fall’s ready-to-wear, what can we expect from her collection? “More fashion forward colors and different exotic themes,” she adds. Sounds good to us (and our necks).