Jewelry not only can be a source of style but also self-empowerment.
Many of the fashion industry's hundreds of direct sales jewelry companies were founded by families or stay-at-home moms searching for a way to make extra money. They created businesses that now help support thousands of consultants who sell their collections at home parties and trunk shows across the country.
Some of them date back decades, such as Illinois-based Park Lane Jewelry, founded in 1955 by Arthur and Shirley Levin. Dozens of others have cropped up in recent years -- Paparazzi Accessories, Origami Owl, Chloe + Isabel and bCharmed, to name a few. All vary in price points and design aesthetic from fun and funky for just a few dollars to custom-designed classics that cost a bit more. But all share a similar mission of promoting growth -- financially and personally -- through style.
Here are a few of the industry's longtime leaders:
• Silpada Designs (www.silpada.com; 1-888-SILPADA)
Sterling silver pieces can be worn casually or dressed up with pearls, stones or other fine jewelry. The company handcrafts jewelry with .925 sterling silver accented with other natural materials such as leather and semiprecious stones. Silpada also offers designs for children and men, including watches, rings, leather-and-silver bracelets and pendants. The company was started in 1997 by stay-at-home moms Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh and expanded to Canada in 2008.
• lia sophia (www.liasophia.com; 1-800-487-3323)
Classic feminine styles mix with colorful bold stones and enamels for a collection that speaks to several style senses. The company began more than 40 years ago by Victor and Ellen Kiam under the name Lady Remington. The couple's son, Tory, and his wife Elena took over the business, renaming it after their two daughters as a tribute to its foundation in family. Today, lia sophia can be spotted accessorizing celebrities such as Jordin Sparks and Carly Rae Jepsen and has been featured at New York Fashion Week.
• Cookie Lee (www.cookielee.com; 1-714-259-5000)
Established more than two decades ago by the company's namesake, Cookie Lee combines versatile, timeless looks with fashion-forward designs. For fall, long gold and silver chain necklaces, multi-colored beaded pieces, crystal cuff bracelets and stackable bangles are among the styles women can carry from outfit to outfit, and season to season.
• stella & dot (www.stelladot.com; 1-800-920-5893)
Founder and CEO Jessica Herrin wanted to help women have it all: a fulfilling family life and a career. So Ms. Herrin, a cofounder of WeddingChannel.com, introduced stella & dot to the direct sales market. The brand includes boutique-style jewelry as well as scarves, handbags, wallets and tech accessories in sophisticated solids and eye-catching patterns worn by celebrities and spotlighted in major fashion magazines such as InStyle and Lucky.
Sara Bauknecht: email@example.com or Twitter @SaraB_PG.