You'd never expect the touching story behind these trendy polymer clay earrings.

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Annie Codd

Do you have a family heirloom – perhaps an ages-old pass-down locket, or your great-grandmother's wedding ring – that you're absolutely terrified to wear? The feeling is understandable: when an object is so deeply sentimental, you become afraid to use it at all. It probably stays locked up in a box deep in your closet, only to emerge on very special occasions. If you can relate, then you can imagine the frustration and sadness that young Annie Codd experienced when, entrusted with her mother's heirloom earrings, she broke the clasps.

This childhood experience propelled Codd into an unexpected hobby: jewelry making. After Codd graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Studio Art and Global Culture and Commerce, she remained in Charlottesville to earn her Master of Science in Nursing. When she's not studying pathophysiology or completing her clinical rotations, she can likely be found making jewelry.

Codd's craft is steeped in family, nostalgia, and legacy. "I spent every summer from birth until college in an incredibly remote and peaceful town in the Northern Neck of Virginia," Codd says. "Since the 1950s my mother's family has driven along the same quiet roads, combed the same beach for shells, and listened to the locals speak with the same distinct twang."

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Inspired by childhood summers at the shore, Codd made her first entrance into the world of jewelry making. "I began creating handmade jewelry from the shells, sea glass, and rocks that make up the Chesapeake Bay landscape," Codd explains as she details the inspiration behind her brand's name, BayOrigins. Since its inception, her Etsy-based jewelry brand has evolved to its current iteration, focusing on polymer clay jewelry.

When asked about her choice to create polymer clay jewelry, Codd describes the earrings as a sort of "wearable geometric puzzle." She continues, "I like how combining familiar shapes produces minimalist and bold jewelry that is anything but dainty and delicate despite their malleable origin."

And, if you haven't heard, big, bright earrings are in style. Codd's polymer clay earrings are eye-catching, modern, affordable, and colorful, resembling the trendy earrings you'd find in a specialty boutique. Through her Instagram account at her Etsy shop, Codd works with customers to pick out color combinations and styles that cater to their individual style.

Annie Codd

But the most sentimental pair she's ever made? A set of marbled, jade-colored earrings modeled after a pair of real jade studs passed down from her mother, who originally received the earrings as a gift from her own father. Codd broke the heirloom earrings as a young girl, and she wanted to recreate their appearance without the pressure of protecting the precious stones dangling from her ears. "I love the look of these earrings and the fact that they are not priceless family heirlooms," Codd laughs. While the earrings certainly can't replace her mother's pass-down studs, they're a great option for sentimental everyday wear.

Each set of Codd's earrings are unique and handmade. Orders can be customized and tailored to a particular person or style, so they make a beautiful, extremely personal gift. And, at the low price of around $14 for a set of handmade, customizable earrings, we think it's quite a steal.

Plus, these new heirlooms are 100% wearable.

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