Boasting miles of seemingly endless white-sand and an almost bottomless ocean of cerulean-blue water, the allure of the The Emerald Coast is undeniable. While most can appreciate its breathtaking beauty, it takes a particular person to harness the aesthetic value of the ocean. Brittany Smith is one of those people ó having turned her love of everything tropical into a lucrative business.
Destiny ó kismet even, was the driving force behind Smithís creative business venture. Smith, a longtime Destin resident, began making jewelry about eight years ago as a hobby when it was too cold outside to go to the beach.
"I started making bracelets and rings out of the shells and sea glass I had collected," said Smith. Eventually, word of Smithís unique marine jewelry leaked out and Bella Beach Jewels was born.
Officially hitting the market in 2009, Smith began selling her jewelry on Etsy.com at Bella Beach Jewelry. Following the online debut of Bella Beach Jewels, Smith began attracting the attention of jewelry and ocean aficionados worldwide. Boutique owners began contacting Smith from all four-corners of the world and orders quickly started pouring in.
"People wanted to sell my jewelry in their shops," said Smith. "My pieces started selling in the Hawaiian Islands, Italy, France and Australia."
According to Smith, her beachy brand "is for free spirits and salty souls."
Rivaling the finely ground quartz crystals that give Northwest Florida beaches their iconic white-sand shores, Smith prides herself on using quality materials the ocean produces. In addition to the seashells and sea glass Smith uses in her creations, sharkís teeth are also repurposed and made into one-of-a-kind jewelry collectibles.
Each piece, whether itís one of Bella Beach Jewels more popular sea glass cuff bracelets or the always in-demand seashell rings, is entirely handmade by Smith.
From beginning to end, "I solder, buff and polish each piece at my house," said Smith.
Another hot item on her website is the hand-stamped, nautical bracelets that she adorns with customerís coordinates. Parents often give the bracelets to their teenagers who are leaving home for the first time.
"They ask for Destin's coordinates so their children can always find their way home, which I think is a really sweet sentiment," Smith said.
With Bella Beach Jewels prices vary from $6 to more than $200.
In 2012, Smith and Bella Beach Jewels attracted even more international attention when professional Roxy paddleboarder Vanina Walsh was photographed sporting the brandís beachy bangles in a popular surf magazine, and again at several highly-publicized contests such as the Stand Up Paddle World Tour in Turtle Bay Hawaii.
Possible good luck charms for Walsh during competitions? "I like to think so!" said Smith.
Although Bella Beach Jewels isnít currently sold in any local stores, all of her pieces can be found on her Bella Beach Jewelry Etsy.com page or at her online shop, bellabeachjewels.com.
Smith said the most exciting break for her and her collection came last winter when Free People ó Urban Outfitters sister brand ó contacted her about picking up her jewelry line for their online store at freepeople.com
Smith told The Log there are even more exciting endeavors in the works for Bella Beach Jewels in the near future, like an upcoming partnership with major swimwear company L*SPACE.
Bella Beach Jewels is inspired "by a love of the ocean, travel and the pursuit of an endless summer of sunshine, seashells, bikinis, bright colors, tan skin, salty hair and sandy feet," said Smith. "They are jewels that can take you from salty days to balmy summer nights."