Photograph by Jamey Guy
Five years ago Paige Jansen-Nichols was diagnosed with kidney and colon cancer. Surgery followed, then chemotherapy. “During chemo I knew I had to do something,” she says. “Watching children and the elderly experience this was the worst part about being sick, and it changed me.” That “something” became her jewelry line, Saint Vintage.
Born in Rhode Island, Nichols, who is in her midforties, has lived in Georgia since the late 1970s and has a family history with jewelry: Both her grandparents and aunt worked in the business. “I remember as a child all the beautiful jewelry my mother had on her changing table,” she adds. Nichols attended Brenau University and in 1993 started her own marketing company, Jansen Advertising, which creates promotional materials for such major corporations as Coca-Cola. While she continues to work with her company, her diagnosis has led Nichols to her two passions: jewelry design and cancer research. From her quaint home office in Dunwoody, Nichols (now cancer-free) sits at her desk, meticulously taking each bead one by one with needle-nose pliers to create necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Her style is bohemian yet elegant, with charms, Swarovski jewels, and rhinestones. “Sandra Bullock’s stylist just called to order that one,” says Nichols, directing our attention toward a long, multistrand, gold and cobalt blue beaded necklace on a nearby bust form. Fifty percent of all Saint Vintage profits go directly to cancer research, currently via the Stand up to Cancer foundation. “I felt like I had a saint, a guardian angel, watching over me,” says Nichols. saintvintage.com
This article originally appeared in our March 2012 issue.