Taylor jewelry artist handcrafts Niett Metals

Nicole Harlow, Niett Metals owner and designer. Photo by personal photographer Deja Samuel.

Nicole Harlow, Niett Metals owner and designer. Photo by personal photographer Deja Samuel.

Ariel Jones
Oxford Stories

Nicole Harlow has always liked jewelry that tells a unique story. From going through her mom’s jewelry box, to visiting New Mexico’s finest leather shops with her dad, Harlow knew she wanted to pursue jewelry-making as a career.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw my mom as a woman with her own story, and not just as my mom,” she said. “I was very young, and we were going through her jewelry box. It always seemed like everyone’s jewelry came from someone else until she revealed her jewelry pieces that symbolized her own life accomplishments.”

Although Harlow grew up in Dallas, she spent many summers with her family in the small town of Cloud Cross, New Mexico where she fell in love with the local leather shops. Her love of silver and turquoise metals inspired her to create Niett Metals.

Niett Metals Rings. Photo by Ariel Jones.

Niett Metals Rings. Photo by Ariel Jones.

Harlow attended the University of Mississippi, and later decided to work with metal inspired by some of the Native American jewelry she had collected over the years.

“I start by thinking about what I would like to wear, and go from there,” she said. “I also take note when other people’s jewelry catches my eye. I ask myself, ‘What is it that I’m liking here? What makes this work? Could it be more or less,'” she said.

Harlow opened a studio in Taylor, Mississippi.

“The jewelry is then handcrafted from start to finish in my century-old home and studio space,” she said. “The location and history of the studio itself plays a large role on characterizing the work of Niett Metals.

“The philosophy of Niett Metals emphasizes the beauty of true quality. The production process begins with sourcing from trusted suppliers of quality materials – from ethical gold and silver, to genuine leather cord and German silks.”

Harlow sells a variety of pieces, such as bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings. Jewelry ranges in price from $40 to $475 on her website.

“Each individual piece of jewelry I create is an homage to this rich legacy of artists – from the native craftsmen of New Mexico to the local makers of Mississippi, and the renowned artists and architects that many of my pieces are named after,” she said.

Harlow creates pieces she likes. “This way, when someone connects with my work, it’s like connecting with me,” she said, “and I find this much more meaningful than simply filling a gap in the industry and producing for profit.”

Instead of following trends, she works to create timeless pieces.

“There are many reasons that people buy my work, and the significance of it is different for each person,” she said. “Jewelry can symbolize love or independence, a loss or even an accomplishment. The idea that it will mean something to someone, is significant to me.”

Niett Metals turquoise/gold bracelet. The other bracelet is from another jeweler. Photographed by Ariel Jones.

Niett Metals turquoise/gold bracelet. The other bracelet is from another jeweler. Photographed by Ariel Jones.

Arami Harris, one of Harlow’s good friends and a loyal customer, enjoys wearing her pieces daily.

“I truly enjoy wearing Nicole’s jewelry, because I am allergic to nickel, so it’s always been a difficulty finding jewelry that doesn’t tarnish after a while or give me an allergic reaction,” she said. “Niett Metals is made with the finest metals, so I have never had any issues, and that’s two of the many factors as to why I love her jewelry.”

Harris said she’s gained a better understanding of what it takes to operate a unique jewelry business, such as Niett Metals, because she has witnessed the time and effort put into creating long lasting jewelry.

“I also love the fact that Nicole can pretty much customize any jewelry piece you’d like,” she said. “My mom recently ordered a ring from her, and she will continue to come back for more items.”

“I usually take around two weeks for the production of my online designs,” she said. “Depending on their intricacy, custom pieces can take up to three months to work from the design stage to the finished piece.”

Nicole Harlow's customized wedding ring. Photo by Ariel Jones.

Nicole Harlow’s customized wedding ring. Photo by Ariel Jones.

During her free time, Harlow enjoys traveling to various cities like New York City and Los Angeles to explore new stores and attend markets to help expand her work.

“Really, any time that I’m in another city, I am sure to wear my work,” she said. “Many opportunities have come from organically kicking up a conversation with a store owner or potential customer.”

Harlow offered the following business advice. “It’s important to prioritize yourself, as well as your business,” she said. “Your business comes from you and will only be as good as you are able to provide.”

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