Conflict-Free Diamonds are a Jewelry Designer’s Best Friend

Lauren Moody concerns herself with portable art, including custom rings.
Portrait by Amos Moses

Lauren Moody wears a necklace made from a sliver of meteorite. It’s her everyday piece. When she smiles and stretches out her hand for a firm shake, it’s adorned with a hand-hammered ring.

A photographer by trade, Moody apprenticed under a jeweler and soon found herself managing a store in Denver, serving as head wedding-ring designer. Fox & Beaux was founded there in 2011 by Moody and her husband, Steven Stedillie. The duo packed a trailer and traveled the country, doing pop-ups and wholesaling jewelry as they went. The next year found them in Belize. Then they visited Western North Carolina and decided to set down some roots, buying a farm in Burnsville.

“Asheville is so quirky,” Moody comments. She and Stedillie decided it would be the place most receptive to Moody’s art. She says her business thrives here because people “can really come in and find exactly what they want — something that speaks to them and who they are.” 

Photos by Fox & Beaux

Fox & Beaux has inhabited its spot in downtown Asheville for two-and-a-half years. Moody chats with customers, makes jewelry, and meets with clients to designs wedding bands. She meets with couples several times, in fact, and interviews them about what they find beautiful. The designer prides herself on showing them how to work within sometimes-modest budgets to design pieces that capture their sensibilities.

Though most of her bridal customers still want diamonds, Moody specializes in selecting rough-cut specimens, including gray and hand-sawn black diamonds. All the diamonds are sustainable and “conflict free,” meaning “they are ethically mined and sold, with no connections to any kind of terror or opposition groups,” the designer explains.

The designer knows that to thrive in Asheville, every piece she makes must be unique.
Photos by Fox & Beaux

These days, she’s setting more emeralds, watermelon tourmalines, and raw turquoise in engagement rings. “There are no rules. Everybody wants something super unique,” she says. “It’s really fun.” If she’s designing a simple style, she also encourages clients to invest more meaning in their piece by bringing in gold from their families that can be melted down and used in their ring.

Her wedding and engagement jewelry includes the rustic Sacred River and Blue Ridge Mountain lines, and in her non-matrimonial designs, she often does not set stones at all, but instead drills and wires slices of stone together, showcasing their natural shapes and letting the light through. As a result, organic slices of blue agate are juxtaposed with geometric aquamarine and accented by glinting gold wire. Clusters of kyanite hang together like tiny luminous fruit on a vine. 

“I love making these little pieces of art that people can wear every day.”

Photos by Fox & Beaux

Lauren Moody, Fox & Beaux Boutique and Custom Design Jewelry Studio, 56 Haywood St., downtown Asheville. For more information, call 828-585-7230, e-mail info@foxandbeaux.com or see the website: www.foxandbeaux.com. Moody’s work is also sold at the Omni Grove Park Inn gift shops (290 Macon Ave., omnihotels.com) and at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center store (36 Montford Ave., ashevillechamber.org).

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