Joie DiGiovanni : The Inspiring story of a Jewelry Designer

Joie DiGiovanni : The Inspiring story of a Jewelry Designer

A life-changing car accident in 2011 was the turning point for Philadelphia native Joie DiGiovanni to reevaluate what mattered to her professionally. The impact from the crash left her with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s Syndrome, and indeterminate colitis. While many of her autoimmune conditions are either currently in remission or under control with biologics, it was in her healing process that reaffirmed her true calling—jewelry design.

DiGiovanni can trace the origins of her love affair with jewelry back to her childhood. “The women in my family had beautiful jewelry,” she tells me. “But it was always reserved for special occasions, which made me feel so restricted. I loved to mix and match, layer and wear jewelry not just with evening gowns, but also with jeans and sneakers. So, I set out to create a jewelry line that had the quality and sophistication of a renowned jewelry house, but that was affordable and easy to wear.” DiGiovanni launched her eponymous brand in 2013 while working simultaneously in retail sales at regional chain, South Moon Under, where she would often wear her designs.

“Shoppers would come into the store and purchase my jewelry right off of me,” she tells me. DiGiovanni was then asked by corporate to do a trunk show that was incredibly successful, which led to a capsule collection that was sold at twenty locations. “I officially went full time with my jewelry line in 2016 with an investment from my family, cashing in personal stocks, and eventually as I grew, I was able to get small business lines of credit to help fuel the growth. I am lucky to have a family that believes in me and supports my dreams and aspirations.”

DiGiovanni is known for her colorful and detailed designs that are timeless yet modern. “My signature pieces are my ruby, emerald and sapphire necklaces, made of beautiful hand-picked faceted high-quality stones. I love layering and mixing metals, different colored gemstones and leather pieces to create a unique look and feel for each day depending on my mood. Color, layering and mixing and matching are the core of my brand and aesthetic,” explains DiGiovanni. She’s also known for incorporating pearls, butterflies, and cannabis leaves into her designs.

“Pearls transcend time and all ages,” states DiGiovanni. “Growing up, I always loved when my grandmother would put on her fine pearls. I wanted to create a pearl line that was fun, wearable, and for any age. Pearls symbolize royalty and beauty, but they aren’t perfect—they each have their own flaws, but that is what makes them unique.” As for butterflies, she has always had a soft spot for them as they symbolize both beauty and freedom. “I named my butterfly line “Volare,” which means to fly in Italian. I wanted to make the line very unique, all individually set stones in vibrant colors that sparkle and exude happiness. Since I was a little girl, I always wore a beautiful antique butterfly pendant my mother gifted me.”

DiGiovanni created her “Lit Collection” to pay homage to the medicine that cannabis and CBD has provided her to soothe the chronic pain she has suffered as a result of her car accident. “This is one of my favorite collections,” says DiGiovanni. “The details in each piece are amazing and it took about 4 different versions until the pieces came out exactly how I envisioned. Each stone is set individually with details in each gold leaf. I love this collection and I wear three studs and a pot leaf pendant every single day.”

Details matter to DiGiovanni. “I am a perfectionist. Every detail counts. Everything I produce is handmade—from the knotted leather to fine metal where each gemstone is handset and assembled by hand,” explains DiGiovanni. Her production and manufacturing takes place in Philadelphia so that she has control over the entire process and quality assurance. As a result, she rarely gets requests for repairs.

“I use only AAA quality pearls and each one is hand selected by my supplier and then further by me. The lariats are assembled on an unbreakable wire so that they can be tied together without any fear of breaking. Each pearl is bailed on metal and attached securely to the wire. The leather pieces are all made from natural leather and hand knotted. Each pearl is hand drilled by my sister (who is her business partner). The fine metal pieces are all casted, each stone hand selected for perfection and then hand set by my small manufacturer.”

Despite being told that she would not be able to deliver high-quality designs at an affordable price point unless she went overseas, DiGiovanni was determined to keep her business in the U.S. “The thought of mass-producing with zero insight into the supply-chain or how their employees are treated was something that scared me and I knew that was not going to work for my brand,” she tells me. After extensive research, DiGiovanni was able to find a transparent supplier in New York City and a manufacturer in Philadelphia who hand-makes all of her fine jewelry pieces. “It was always very important for me to have my jewelry made here in the United States for job creation, quality control, and oversight.”

Like many businesses, the pandemic has had a huge impact on DiGiovanni’s business. “All my retail partners have closed their doors during this scary time and are scrambling to figure out how to sell online,” shares DiGiovanni. “Virtual trunk shows are now becoming a way to keep brands and stores at the forefront of consumers’ minds while they are stuck at home.” DiGiovanni believes the pandemic will change how consumers shop, in particular her base. “I believe women are going to want items that are meaningful, have stories behind them, that bring joy and happiness, and with a strong emphasis on products being produced in the United States and on craftsmanship.”

Despite the current challenges, DiGiovanni remains hopeful for the future. “I see the brand staying strong in the coming years. My jewelry line is small, well managed, the pieces have no seasonality, and can be worn year-round. In fact, the way I run my business is ideal for weathering this situation. I keep one sample of each piece and from there my clients custom order so they can be a part of the process and choose metals, change stones, and even take existing jewelry they don’t wear to make new pieces that they will love. I offer a truly customizable experience, which I can do virtually if necessary,” explains DiGiovanni. The experience is one of the reasons such a large portion of DiGiovanni’s customer base is repeat business.

In addition to her own designs, DiGiovanni collaborates with bloggers, influencers, and boutiques. A recent collaboration with Ariel Ginsburg (aka Ariel Peche) was so popular that it became a permanent part of DiGiovanni’s collection.“We named each piece after members of our families,” she tells me. Family is a big part of DiGiovanni’s business. In fact her sister Dara, who has Asperger syndrome plays an integral role in the company. “My sister helps hand make the gemstone pieces and drills all of the pearls. I believe in giving back to those navigating through their own journey with the spectrum. So we give a portion of our revenue year-round to local charities that support developmental disabilities.”

Just like family, paying it forward is a vital part of DiGiovanni’s brand. “I have been doing virtual trunk shows with some of my retailers and giving a portion of the proceeds to Philabundance, a charity that is helping to feed families during this pandemic. I am also donating a portion of sales from my website to Philabundance. I believe the most important thing we can do is try to give back and help those less fortunate than us.”

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