Artists often say, “listen to your heart.” When Julie Jacobs says it, however, she really means it. After a heart attack at age 47, Julie underwent bypass surgery and ended up with a visible scar that limited her dressing options. “I didn’t want to wear scarves and turtlenecks for the rest of my life!” She searched for a necklace to cover the scar, but couldn’t find anything suitable. Finally she turned a previous interest in stones and geology into a jewelry practice that eventually became her business, Just Cause Jewelry. Julie uses fairly large stones, which she chooses specifically for their ability to conceal.
Though she is mainly self-taught, Julie has taken some classes and worked with other jewelers to learn her craft. She uses semi-precious stones such as jasper and agate, which she wraps in gold or silver wire, adding hand-beading that drapes comfortably on the body. Julie also makes earrings to match her necklaces, as well as separate earrings and ear cuffs for non-pierced ears. Bracelets and other hand jewelry complete her offerings. “I make each piece by hand,” Julie says. “I pay attention to the way the stone feels, its color and shape. It tells me what to do with it.”
Before she made jewelry, Julie worked for the Santa Clara County Literacy Program, working with inmates at the county jail. She trained inmates to tutor other inmates in reading and writing. “Some of those guys were pretty scary,” she admits. “But it was good for them to do something positive while they were in there. Some were in the county jail for years, awaiting trial. I even heard inmates claim that the only time they could read was when they were in jail.” Julie retired early from the Literacy Program and focused on her jewelry business. “I show often in the Bay Area, but I would really like to take my jewelry to other places.” Julie is participating in a show this summer in Las Vegas, and hopes to sell a lot there.
Julie is committed to raising awareness about women and cardiovascular disease. She donates 10% of her sales from Just Cause to Go Red For Women, an organization dedicated to reducing heart disease in women. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, far outpacing breast cancer. However, many if not most women have little information about this serious health hazard. “Women’s arteries are smaller than men’s, and can get clogged easier,” Julie states. “There is also a hereditary component.” After several years of angina attacks, and being told that there was nothing wrong with her heart, Julie ended up going to the hospital with severe chest pains and had a heart attack shortly after admitting herself. “I had a blocked artery that was somehow missed. It’s lucky I was in the hospital when it happened.” Julie, like many women, did not have the classic symptoms of a heart attack. In addition, many doctors still treat heart disease as a “man’s disease,” failing to notice women’s heart problems.
Go Red For Women’s website contains information about heart health, media coverage and how individuals can help. Julie Jacobs’ website, www.justcausecustomjewelry.com, has availability, ordering information, and more about where Julie will be showing her work. You can also visit her blog: http://justcausecustomjewelry.blogspot.com/.