SueAnn Southworth's love of rocks and all things gemological began at age 4 when her grandmother showed her a special collection of Petoskey stones found during her summer walks along the shores of Lake Michigan. It wasn’t the stones themselves, which were brown or grey with white flower-like impressions, that fascinated Southworth. Rather, it was the story her grandmother told of their creation. She described the lives of one-celled animals that lived millions of years ago in the Devonian period. When they died in the mud their tiny bodies left the flower-like impressions. Since then, Southworth has hunted and gathered rock treasures from where her life and travels have taken her. From Lake Michigan to Europe and the Middle East and back again to the United States, wherever Southworth lands the rocks and the geology of each place informs her jewelry designs and artwork.
When Southworth and her husband first arrived in Paris, they parked their suitcases in their small apartment in the 15th Arrondissement and left to explore the neighborhood. They walked the short distance to Ecole Militaire on the way to the Eiffel Tower. Along the path to the majestic icon looming in the distance, Southworth noticed that the sound of their steps on the “gravel” was different than expected. She stooped to pick up a handful of the stones. Her husband, lost in his own thoughts didn’t notice she stopped and was walking ahead. He suddenly realized she wasn’t beside him and turned to see her examining the pebbles in her hand. “What are you doing?” he asked. “This is chert!” Southworth exclaimed. Confounded, he pointed ahead, “The Eiffel Tower!”
The joy of Southworth's creations is inspired by her clients and the stories she relayes to them of the origins of the gems and beads which comprise their jewelry. Southworth is greatly rewarded when a client is entranced by her artwork and says, “this really speaks to me!”