Jewelry Designer Is Living Her Dream

When jewelry designer Joy Graham talks about her work, there is something distinctly dreamlike about it. Almost literally, sometimes: “I keep a notepad by my bed for when ideas come to me before I go to sleep,” she says.

Then, in the morning, she goes right to her home office and tries to create the ideas that she conceptualized the night before. It’s all for her company Pure Joy Hawaii, which she has been running for the last several years, starting when she was still a student at UH.

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Pure Joy Hawaii owner Joy Graham in her home office LAWRENCE TABULDO PHOTOS

But her interest in crafting jewelry dates back even further than that — to when she was in intermediate school and art class happened to cover a brief section on basic principles of jewelry. She used what she learned in the class to make hemp jewelry, and by the time she graduated from high school, she was getting more and more into it.

Graham admits, though, that she never really thought much of it.

“It was more just for fun, it was just a hobby,” she recalls.

But others who saw her work recognized the value in it before she did. Whenever her extended family would come over for dinner, her aunties always wanted to peruse her latest creations and even would purchase their favorite ones. One day, a friend made an offhand comment that her jewelry was so good it could sell in stores.

Her friends weren’t alone in that sentiment. Several years ago, Graham was browsing at the former Koko Cabana boutique and started chatting with the woman who worked there. Graham mentioned that she made jewelry, and when the woman asked to see some, Graham grabbed a shoe box of pieces she happened to have in her car. Koko Cabana was so impressed that they put her jewelry on the shelf that day.

From there, Graham went about building her business in a grassroots fashion: “I would take my shoe box of jewelry into a store and just ask if the managers or owners wanted to see it.

“Now, looking back, I realize that was probably kind of rude,” she says with a laugh. “But I feel super blessed because everybody was very welcoming.”

Her business savvy has grown over time — Pure Joy now can be found in local shops including Mikinola, Bamboo Sky, Super Citizen, Fighting Eel and Color Cuts Salon.

Her style, too, has evolved. While Graham mainly used shells and other materials that were popular when she was starting out, she has developed a stronger sense of her own style over the years.

Pure Joy pieces are delicate and dainty with a little bit of an edge, and include earrings, rings and necklaces. One of her most popular items currently are Y-drop necklaces.

Graham aims for her pieces to be timeless —”Something that is in style now but that you can always wear.”

Graham also has developed an affinity for incorporating gemstones into her jewelry, giving it a chic, elegant look. Right now, she is excited about a recent stone find: Herkimer diamonds. (“It’s a crystal quartz found in New York,” she explains. “It looks like a little raw, rough diamond, so I have been making rings with that.”)

Graham takes particular pride in creating items that customers can’t get elsewhere.

“I want to be able to offer clients something that is meaningful and special for them,” she says.

Achieving that is an ever-evolving process.

“My line is always evolving because styles and trends are always changing. I think reinvention is necessary,” Graham explains. “A part of what I do is to pay attention to current fashions. I look at new styles or what people are wearing and think of it as a blank canvas. I imagine how I can accessorize and bolster the style a bit.”

That constantly coming up with new designs is part of the job suits Graham just fine — it’s that creative process she enjoys most.

“I feel like I am living the dream — and whatever I thought of or drew the night before, I am really excited to get into the office and try to make it. It’s going on eight years, and I am still super excited.”

In addition to the shops listed here, Pure Joy Hawaii also can be found at trunk shows regularly. Next up, Pure Joy will have a booth at an Arts and Flavors of Hawaii event May 3 at Hawaii Kai Retirement Community. For more information, to place an order and to view pieces, call 640-8321, visit purejoyhawaii.com, email info@purejoyhawaii.com or find Pure Joy on Instagram @purejoyhawaii.

coconnor@midweek.com