Two short years ago, Texas A&M graduate Katie Decker ’10 was sitting in finance classes, listening to friends discuss career options and wondering what job the future had in store for her. She never dreamed that someday, the title “jewelry designer” would precede her name. Even more so, she never dreamed that someone like First Lady Michelle Obama would wear the jewelry pieces she would come to create.
Having a lifelong fascination with jewelry, Decker interned at Judith Ann Jewelers in Houston the summer before her senior year, and it was there she discovered her talent for designing. An artist at heart, Decker says that she would doodle jewelry designs on slow business days, specifically designing a pendant to hold one of her mother’s pearls. The storeowner was so impressed with Decker’s sketches that she offered her space in the store. The design for her mother’s pendant, now called the “Ivy pearl pendant” is still one of Decker’s bestsellers.
Thanks to her fresh, intricate designs and strong Aggie roots, finance grad Katie Decker ’10 has become a rising star in the jewelry industry.
The thought of designing jewelry for a living was just beginning to sprout in Decker’s mind the fall semester of her senior year at Mays. Decker decided to apply for the JCK and Couture jewelry tradeshows, some of the top in the nation, sending in her mere 10 designs. “I was accepted, but I knew I needed to expand my collection fast, so I spent the whole winter break of my senior year designing new pieces,” Decker says.
Her namesake jewelry line took off from there. Decker’s line now includes more than 100 pieces, selling in stores all over the U.S. Her whimsical, delicate designs mirror the vibrant imagination she’s always possessed.
Decker’s name is becoming increasingly prominent in the jewelry industry. She secured her spot as one of the top up-and-coming designers in fall 2011 when First Lady Michelle Obama adorned herself in three of Decker’s diamond-encrusted bangles at the Democratic National Convention fundraiser in New York City. Michelle Obama wore Decker’s Lotus cuff (priced at $15,000), her Gothic cuff ($15,350) and the Quatrefoil bracelet ($11,800). The Internet has been buzzing about the bracelets ever since the event.
Decker is quick to attribute much of her success to her ties with Texas A&M. “When you’re an Aggie,” says Decker, “people want to help and support you.” She says that the Aggie network has opened doors to many important opportunities, such as meeting and working with David ’78 and Julia Gardner, owners of David Gardner’s Jewelers.
“It also helps to have a business degree from here,” she adds, saying that the knowledge she gained as a finance major has aided her tremendously in dealing with jewelry businesses interested in carrying her pieces.
Inspired by her time here at A&M, Decker’s newest line is dedicated to Aggies.
“The A&M line was actually the Gardners’ idea,” she says. “They approached me about a year ago and discussed the possibility of creating a more unique and feminine line of Aggie jewelry. We wanted to incorporate the delicate feel of my 18kt gold line into the designs.”
The line includes earrings, necklaces, pendants and rings—some pieces displaying A&M’s letters entwined in swirls of silver, and others devoted to A&M traditions, such as the Century Tree.
You wouldn’t guess it now, but Decker claims that she “did not know the jewelry business” just two years ago. She says that in a way, her career as a jewelry designer stemmed from boredom at work. She doodled, and those doodles cleared a path for her future as a successful designer.
With her fresh, intricate designs, increasing popularity and strong Aggie roots, Katie Decker’s name is quickly becoming a mainstay in the jewelry industry.
Story by Kristin MacKenzie, a senior marketing major