Hairdresser turned one-of-a-kind jewelry artist Dana Voorhees has always believed beauty has nothing to do with looks—and everything to do with attitude. “It’s all about how beautiful you feel,” she says of her women-empowering philosophy.
It’s that way of thinking that drove her successful twenty-year career as a stylist, in which she honed a skill for making a woman’s day by helping her feel gorgeous. That same determination now fuels her passion for jewelry making. “You can just make a person’s life better by making them feel better,” Voorhees reveals. “My passion comes from that.”
Voorhees says one of her favorite moments as an artist is when a customer puts on one of her handmade pieces and looks at themselves in the mirror for the first time. “They take a breath and put their hand over the piece, pressing it into them, and my whole heart smiles. I believe all women are beautiful, but not all women believe that. It’s just so great to see that and to encourage that and to let them know that they are pretty. You see a transformation; it’s empowering.”
Voorhees is a native of the Black Hills of South Dakota, where she grew up on a ranch before raising her own family of seven children in the same area. The stunning natural landscape that surrounds Voorhees became the canvas for her creations.
“I’m always out looking and ready to be inspired, and God has provided me with a wonderful pallet,” praises Voorhees. “I’m so blessed to live here!” Voorhees adds that inspiration often strikes while she is walking her dogs in the woods or out riding her horses.
very season—whether it’s covered in snow or wildflowers—you see so much!” raves Voorhees of the land she loves. “I see the color, the texture, and I snap pictures. I have a million pictures of the stuff I just love!” she laughs. “Then, as I’m in Tucson and I’m going through and finding stones, I’ll remember a scene that I’ve shot, and it just all comes together magically in my head.”
Voorhees says she spends hours digging through beads to find just the right components for her necklaces, earrings and bracelets. “It’s really important to me to have quality stones to start with, that’s the basis of everything.”
“Black Hills Blossom” is one of the pieces that exemplifies Voorhees’ commitment to quality. The necklace is a modern twist on a traditional turquoise Naja that features Sleeping Beauty Turquoise in a stunning sterling silver setting. It’s offset by two strands of faceted Bisbee Turquoise and a third strand of faceted chrysocolla stones, also sourced from Bisbee, Arizona.
Voorhees names her collections to make it easy for shoppers to combine pieces and create a striking statement. “For me, layering necklaces is second nature, but for other people it’s not as easy,” explains Voorhees, who spent a number of years helping people through their purchases while working at a local boutique called Jewel of the West (which still carries some of her jewelry) “I created all of these pieces that can go together to make it easier for people to shop.”
Shopping for the wearable art that Voorhees designs is now as easy as a mouse click, thanks to the recent launch of her online store at DanaVoorhees.com. Voorhees says going out on her own is a natural progression for her business, which she manages from start to finish. “I started beading, became a silversmith, then did the casting of silver pieces,” Voorhees explains about her evolution as an artist. “The time has come; I’m dedicating myself to full-time designing; I’m not going to do wholesaling anymore.”
Voorhees designs and manufactures about 200 sets for her collection each year. The prices range from approximately $75 to $1,500, offering a price range that women from nearly all walks of life can afford.
“Empowering women to believe in themselves is why I do what I do,” Voorhees concludes. “I donate a lot of pieces to fundraisers, as well. It’s like a ministry. God inspires me to do all these things, and I just need to give that back to the women in the world to make them feel great. I have a wonderful job!.”