Dallas-born Casey Perez is a realist—which is why for a long time she assumed making jewelry was never going to be her vocation, no matter how much she loved it. As she recalls, “I was always very creative, but when it came time to go to off college, I didn’t really think it was practical to study those things. So I got a degree in psychology instead.” But a jewelry-making class and internship late in her NYU undergrad career convinced her she might just have the skills to make a go of it after all—and graduating in 2010 meant facing some fairly bleak job prospects, regardless of your major.
The crappy economy had a literal silver lining for Casey: As she tells it, “A lot of my friends weren’t able to get jobs, so I didn’t feel this pressure to really start my life yet, and it gave me a lot of freedom to focus on making jewelry.” She started tooling around with metal, creating monolithic pillar earrings, rings with arched cutouts, and earrings shaped like eyes, while honing her skills for the likes Pamela Love. Casey’s line Artifacts, which she launched in 2010, is flourishing—and having a psych degree never hurts when navigating new biz deals, either.