Daniel Island Entrepreneur Creates Jewelry Inspired by Sweetgrass Basket Tradition

March 15, 2011

When Angie Buxton received a sweetgrass basket as a gift from her babysitter seven years ago, the inspiration for a custom jewelry line was born.

“I was working as a pharmaceutical representative at the time and had a wonderful nanny that helped me take care of my children,” says Angie.  “For my birthday one year, she gave me a beautiful sweetgrass basket that was hand-made by her mother.  I was so taken by its design and craftsmanship.”

Angie began to research the history of the sweetgrass basket and found that they were used for winnowing rice on Lowcountry plantations as far back as 1694.  The plantations relied on the skilled labor of salves imported from West Africa for rice cultivation.

As Angie researched the craft further, she started to speak with modern day basket weavers who are descendants of the Gullah-Geechee heritage.  She discovered that the method is an oral tradition that is passed down from family to family.

“Unfortunately, it is a dying art because the younger generations are not as interested about learning the craft,” said Angie.  “I wanted to do something to help preserve the art and promote greater awareness of the Gullah-Geechee heritage.”

Angie decided to start a jewelry line that would help honor and preserve the traditions of the Gullah-Geechee people.

“I was busy working full-time and trying to raise two young kids. The idea of a new career that would allow me to work from my home on Daniel Island and spend more time with my family was certainly attractive,” commented Angie.

Her initial design was created as a clay bracelet prototype that reflected the same woven details of the sweetgrass baskets.

“I showed the prototype to a craftsman who then took the design and casted it in sterling silver. The jewelry business took off from there.”

Sweet Charleston Designs is a fine jewelry collection custom crafted using 18K gold and sterling silver. Angie operates the business out of her home on Daniel Island and works with a silversmith and casting house to produce the designs. The line is carried by more than twenty retailers, and pieces range from $120 – $3,000.  Custom orders are also accepted.

“It just all seemed to work out. Now I have the best of both worlds – I’m pursuing a newly found passion and preserving a piece of Lowcountry history. Plus I get to spend more time with my family,” said Angie.

For more information on Sweet Charleston Designs, go to www.sweetcharlestondesigns.com