eweler Jannie Bean always wears her
heart on her sleeve—quite literally.
Smaller than a dime, the stipple-
textured pin is one of Jannie’s signature
designs, and she’s customized it for countless
clients since its debut almost three decades
ago. “I have a heart that I made—it could be
a pendant or a pin—and women just love
these,” says Jannie, the owner of Jannie
Bean Fine Custom Jewelry in Highlands,
North Carolina. “I wear one every day on the
cuff of my sleeve.” It’s a small, shiny symbol
of her life’s work, which ultimately is about
more than handcrafting fine accessories.
“The real purpose for my being here is to
love the person who comes in that door,” says
Jannie, who fell into the jewelry manufacturing
business as a college student. While studying
art at the University of Minnesota, she found
a part-time job at a local jewelry shop.
“I realized I’m a people person. I’m artistic,
I’m creative, I love to problem solve, so this
kind of fit for me,” says Jannie. She continued
to work for the jeweler long past graduation
and purchased the business when she turned
- After she and her husband, Tom, moved
to Highlands in 2016 for a dramatic change of
scenery, she opened the current location.
From engagement rings to necklaces to
belt buckles, Jannie starts from scratch with
most of her pieces, and nearly all of her
designs are one-of-a-kind. In her well-
appointed showroom, several glass cases
display her artistic talent. Yet, the majority
of her work is commissioned by people who
long for a wearable sentimental token that
A jewelry designer based in a North Carolina mountain town channels her compassion for others into bespoke baubles.
BY Ashley Shaw | PHOTOGRAPHY BY John O’Hagan