Your Local Greenville SC Jewelry Store: Two Generations Strong
It was far from a foregone conclusion that Sydney Strong would inherit llyn strong fine art jewelry from her mother. Like llyn strong, Sydney showed an early interest in art. As a young girl, she would assist her mother in molding and casting jewelry for the store and took classes at the Fine Arts Center.
llyn herself had clear artistic inclinations from as far back as she can remember. Whether she was painting or playing music, she correctly suspected that her future lay in art. When she finally took a jewelry design course at Western Carolina University—well, to be exact five jewelry design courses at WCU—she knew that her artistic passion should be channeled into designing artisanal jewelry.
In the beginning, llyn worked at Hales Jewelers and began by crafting her own unique fine art jewelry pieces on the side. She traveled to craft shows and other jewelry stores in Greenville, SC and nationally to showcase her creations.
llyn’s mother was born in Nantucket, and as she explains: “I received my mother’s great love of the ocean, and my earliest pieces reflected this—they were nautical-themed, with gold and silver shells set with colored gemstones.” You can still see llyn’s mother’s Nantucket influence in pieces such as her Mermaid Maki-e Pearl Clasp.
Over time, llyn’s designs would expand into what they are today—modern classics that expertly combine functionality and beauty. Since she opened her doors in 1986, llyn strong has been at the forefront of Greenville’s jewelry scene. Her designs have captured the hearts and imagination of thousands of residents throughout the Upstate and beyond.
Greenville Jewelry Discovers a New Voice
By the time she reached middle school, Sydney Strong took a brief hiatus from spending countless hours helping her mother craft fine art jewelry to pursue another passion—soccer.
After excelling on the pitch at Eastside High School and GFC club soccer (now CESA), Sydney took her talents to the College of Charleston where her soccer prowess served her well as a student-athlete. At the time assuming the mantle of owner of llyn strong Fine Art Jewelry was the furthest thing from her mind. After college, she continued to play and coach soccer for local club teams and at College of Charleston.
But at some point in her late 20s, Sydney remembered how much she had enjoyed those afternoons crafting one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces in her Mom’s shop. She spent a year driving from Charleston to Greenville to help out with the store when the possibility of making a career as a jewelry designer first crept into her mind.
As Sydney recalls, “I was becoming more and more interested in colored gemstones. I vaguely knew that the stones my Mom crafted into designer jewelry pieces were rare, but when she told me that a Paraiba Tourmaline from Brazil was 10,000x rarer than a diamond, I remember saying, “Wow, this is fascinating stuff.”
Sydney decided to enroll in the graduate gemologist program at the Gemological Institute of America, which is the foremost authority when it comes to knowledge, standards, and education in gemstones. Armed with her rigorous education in gemology, Sydney was ready to join her Mom full-time at Greenville’s most recognized jewelry store.
After a decade of working alongside her Mom at the jewelry store in Greenville, SC that everyone associates with the best in unique, custom-made pieces, the transition from mother to daughter ownership has been seamless.
“I’m so proud of Sydney,” llyn strong explains. “Her understanding of gemstones and her artistic sensibilities are something truly remarkable to behold.” For her part, Sydney pays homage to her mother’s years of hard work and dedication to the business and to her craft.
“When we first discussed if I would buy the business, my Mom asked if I would want to change the name. Absolutely not! You don’t change a Greenville institution. What my Mom has built over the years, the relationships she has nurtured with her customers, and her legacy will forever be a part of Greenville.”
The announcement that Sydney will become the new owner of llyn strong fine art jewelry couldn’t have come at a more auspicious time. To mark this turning of the page in the history of llyn strong, and to celebrate Mother’s Day, Sydney and llyn will collaborate on a new collection, Strong Pair, which will feature pear-shaped gemstones in the signature settings for which llyn and Sydney have become known and celebrated.
But what will retirement mean for the person whose name has become synonymous with jewelry stores in Greenville, SC?
As llyn sheepishly admits, “I plan on taking a week every month to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.” Sydney has her thoughts on her Mom’s “retirement”: “She’ll still be a big part of llyn strong. She is llyn strong.”
As they put the finishing touches on their Strong Pair collection, it’s impossible to imagine llyn in a rocking chair taking it easy. “She’ll want to be here,” Sydney states, smiling at her Mom. “She’ll want to be here for those special occasions and customers—those customers buying their first engagement rings or celebrating the birth of a child with a special piece of jewelry. You can never tear yourself away from that.”
llyn smiles back. “I do enjoy making people happy. When my art accomplishes that, that makes it all worth it.”