Lyons says the jewelry has several purposes beyond the aesthetic. The first is awareness. “Each piece in the Torchbearers Collection is meant to start a conversation,” she said. “By getting more people talking about oystering, we hope to raise the profile of the Gulf Coast’s traditional fishing communities and the people whose livelihoods depend on them.”
Another is cultural preservation, since the oyster industry’s downturn has resulted in a similar decline in business for craftsmen like Richards.
“The ‘Torchbearers’ collection embodies the grit and resolve of the Gulf Coast’s traditional fishing communities,” Lyons said.
“By restyling their product into fashion accessories, we can give them a reason to continue plying their trade, so that they can hopefully pass it on to the next generation,” Lyons said.
There’s also an environmental element. Five percent of “Torchbearers'” proceeds will benefit Apalachicola Riverkeeper, a nonprofit devoted to the preservation and protection of Apalachicola’s waterways.
Lyons fashions all her jewelry in the French Quarter, where she also operates her flagship store.
Pieces start from $95 for a long pendant and chain. A pledge of $2,500 or more gets you one of 10 14-karat-gold necklaces, plus tickets to Lyons’s January 7 launch party.
“The ‘Torchbearers’ collection embodies the grit and resolve of the Gulf Coast’s traditional fishing communities and imagines a future in which tradition and progress coexist and support one another,” she added.