She did not intend to start a business, she simply couldn’t find a horse head belt buckle she liked, so she decided to design her own. Now, 24 years later, Jane Heart has become one of the most well-known equestrian jewelry designers. WARHorses is thrilled to partner with Jane Heart Jewelry offering her exquisite designs directly through our WARHorses SHOP. We want to share Jane’s journey into entrepreneurship successfully combining her love of horses and jewelry into timeless treasures.
WH: What inspired you to start a line of equestrian jewelry?
JH: Horses were always a passion for me. One of my favorite outfits as a child was that of a cowgirl complete with a red felt hat. Jewelry became another passion when I worked in executive retail management for Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Gucci. In the early ‘90s, I was looking for a horse head belt buckle and could not find a design I liked, so I designed my own. That was the starting point. I decided to create a business of my own.
How did the name Jane Heart Jewelry come about?
The name pays tribute to my ambition to “follow my heart” and Jane was my middle name hence Jane Heart LLC.
Have you owned horses?
The last horse I owned was in the late ‘90s, a big horse named, Beluga. I enjoyed learning dressage and even competed at Training Level. The bond you create with a horse simply can’t be replaced with anything else. I miss having a horse and enjoying those moments when the two of you become one.
What characteristics do you strive to capture in your designs?
Accuracy. My designs are crafted with an eye for detail that allows people to immediately recognize a specific breed or sport. I work very hard to get it right. I believe people respect that artistic crafting. One of my favorite compliments is when someone tells me a piece “looks just like my horse”.
Jane Heart has released a number of commemorative designs, what is the inspiration behind these collaborations?
I wanted a way to give back to the equestrian community. I started looking for opportunities to do so with designs for which a portion of sales are donated to organizations and charities that benefit horse related causes.
The first license in 2008 featured Barbaro. I read that Mr. and Mrs. Roy Jackson were starting a fund to honor their great horse and reached out to them. Mrs. Jackson provided a special photo of Barbaro looking out of his stall. It was such a powerful image, and it became the foundation for the design surrounded by a heart. Barbaro “won the heart of America” so this shape was perfect and still is admired today. While he survived the original injury, the affects of laminitis ultimately took his life. A portion of the sale of each Barbaro design is donated to The Fund for Laminitis Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine so each person purchasing is contributing.
In 2010, Mrs. Penny Chenery granted the license for the Secretariat design to benefit the Secretariat Foundation which she started. Each year, Mrs. Chenery decided which organizations she would benefit. She was very involved and had to approve each new piece. This design was inspired by both Secretariat’s photo on the cover of Time Magazine (link) and his own USPS stamp (link). A fun aside, I was an extra in the movie “Secretariat” and was invited to walk the red carpet for its premier in Lexington, Kentucky.
Other commemorative designs include:
2013, Ravel, the award winning Dressage Champion benefiting the United States Dressage Federation Ravel Education Grant program. (link to USDF)
2014, Man o’ War benefitting the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation for the preservation of Man o’ War’s statue and final resting place. (link to the horse park)
2015, the Jockey Cap Collection benefits the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund created in 2006 to assist jockeys who have suffered an on track catastrophic injury. (link to fund)
2016, American Pharoah who in 2015 broke the 37 year Triple Crown Winner drought. AP’s proceeds benefit Old Friends, Georgetown, KY which is home to more than 175 retired and rescued thoroughbred racehorses.
What is your creative process – how do you go about producing a new design?
A design begins with visual references, typically photography. I look at many photos and combine elements to achieve a true representation of each horse – a nostril flair from one photo, the head carriage from another. Once I feel confident about the details, the figure is carved directly into wax to create a model of the design.
A mold is then created around the wax model, and then the wax is melted and drained away. The molten silver can then be poured into the mold to cast each figure. This technique is called “lost-wax process”, the oldest known examples date to 4500-3500 BC. The technique is particularly lauded by artisans for its ability to replicate intricate detail.
I have teamed with the same talented silversmith since the inception of Jane Heart over 24 years ago. He hand fabricates each piece of jewelry and once assembled hand polishes each one also, which is highly unusual in the silver sterling industry. Every piece is hand stamped on the back with our logo. The licensed designs of the famous horses also have their name stamped on the back and come with a commemorative card in a gift box. Many of my clients have collected all of them!
We “women of age” can surely agree that Jane made the right decision to follow her heart 24 years ago. Her designs are beautiful depictions of the horses and equestrian sports we love, each a crafted piece of art to be collected and treasured for a lifetime.
WARHorses invites you to peruse a selection of Jane’s designs available through our WARHorses’ SHOP!
Feature photo courtesy Jane Heart Jewelry, LLC.