|18-Karat Gold and Diamond|
Angelina Ring with Orange Tourmaline
Ingram’s journey to becoming a jewelry designer is unlike any backstory I have ever read.
With the exception of African designer Lovetta Conto, Anzie Stein (Canada), and Elizabeth Showers (USA), I don’t believe I have read such an incredibly dramatic advent into this career.
For me learning about the very human struggles of these gifted individuals adds even more gravity to the hard work and dedication required to be successful in this particular field; a profession that some consider fluff.
Originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, Ingram lived a life of privilege with $100 allowances and luxuries like “edible silver paper imported from India.” Don’t let that fool you; Ingram is one tough lady and has the stainless steel spine to prove it.
In 1977, at the age of 20 her life would forever change when she married former deliveryman, Ron Cappo. Their union would produce a son, Josh, but frequent arguments helped the marriage to quickly deteriorate.
In 1982, she would divorce Cappo and a tense custody battle brewed. Fearing that she would lose full custody of her son in 1983 Ingram risked everything moving with her son to upstate New York, Florida and eventually settling down for a time in Dallas, Texas.
Initially she relied on monthly checks from her mother to meet expenses; but with the FBI tracking her for kidnapping, she was forced to cut off all ties to her family and make a life for herself and her son on her own. She decided to adopt an alias calling herself Erica Courtney; a name inspired by the All My Children character Erica Kane.
Blessed with an instinctive knowing of what elements go well together, her first design was a pair of sunglasses she accented with glued on Austrian crystals she had removed from an old piece of jewelry.
People who saw the glasses liked them so much she began taking orders for new creations working out of her one-bedroom apartment in Dallas. Local shops carried her unique creations and by 1991 she was creating pieces with diamonds.
|18-Karat Gold and Diamond Aurora Pendant Necklace |
with Tanzanite and Pink Sapphire
With revenue increasing and her label growing the inevitable would happen. After 11 years of successfully dodging Federal agents in 1992 the Feds caught up with Ingram and took her back to Louisiana where she was sentenced to two years’ probation; she also had to return her son to her ex-husband.
Today Ingram, along with her son Josh, is based in sunny Los Angeles, California. Though it took time for her to establish a following for her fine jewelry brand, Erica Courtney, Ingram has learned to appreciate her rocky journey to success.
“I thank my ex-husband--Josh’s father--for giving me the life I have today. Because without him forcing me to make the decision I did, I wouldn’t be living this life. It was hard to see that in the beginning,” she admits.
“The first collection I launched was entirely made of sterling silver and eventually the brand evolved into fine gold, platinum and gemstone jewelry. I have always strived to utilize the most socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.
I only use recycled metals and the most ethically obtained gemstones. For custom jewelry designs I also like to encourage clients to bring in gemstones from their own collection so that they can be recreated into a unique design.
I love using high-quality cultured pearls; a rare, beautiful blue and purple stone found solely in Tanzania, Africa called Tanzanite; and Zultanite a natural gem that does not require chemicals to recover it and I do not add chemical enhancements.”
Ingram’s assortment of 18-karat gold and platinum bangle and charm bracelets, dangle earrings and pendant necklaces are classically romantic and feminine. There is an Old World, Victorian sense to them in the subtle grandness of outlines like diamond encrusted lotus blossoms or four leaf clovers. I think this is hands-down, old school Hollywood glamour.
|18-Karat Gold and Diamond|
Bar Bangle Bracelet
“I am a designer who designs for me. Sometimes we do lime green and fuchsia on an earring.
If I would wear it I would do it. I design from the heart and strive to create jewelry that is remembered and treasured.”
Tinseltown’s red carpets are a hotspot to see famous names showered in Erica Courtney Jewelry.
Those names include Zoe Saldana, Marcia Cross, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Hudson, Hayden Panettiere, Cheryl Crow and Angela Bassett.