Carolina Characters

Carolina Characters | Rocks rock her world

Antonia Moore uses a soldering iron to create unique pieces of jewelry from collected shells, agate, and other natural stones in her home studio in Pawleys Island.
Antonia Moore uses a soldering iron to create unique pieces of jewelry from collected shells, agate, and other natural stones in her home studio in Pawleys Island.

Blues electric, purples majestic, browns rich, and ochers earthy are among the fortunate hues in the hands of Antonia Moore.

She is no magician, but she certainly possesses a mojo to make bold, beautiful jewelry featuring striking agates.

It is the kind you won’t find in stores because it’s marked by the graceful originality only evident in works of passion, patience, and good intentions placed by love.

“Every time I wear her jewelry, I get compliments,” said Christie Collins, 43, a friend of Moore’s for 18 years. “I think she is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met.”

Long before the Grand Strand knew her, Hartsville had her heart and began turning it to stone.

It was while she was a child in Darlington County’s largest city that her daddy passed on his natural adoration to her – a special affection for rocks. Yes, genes are behind her genius.

While children there and around the world threw rocks into bodies of water and sometimes at each other, Moore’s bluish-green eyes was searching for and finding the art in them.

Rocks rocked her world then and still shake her ground.

“She has a great talent for finding beauty in things people don’t normally find beautiful,” said Martha Propps, 43, who owns jewelry Moore made. “She has the ability to turn objects into something incredible.”

Moore, a waitress at the Litchfield Beach Fish House, relishes nature’s presents in her presence. A visit to her Pawleys Island home reveals her unrestrained appetite to create art from wonders the earth gives freely.

Proof is around her house. Seemingly every nook, cranny, corner, wall and tabletop has her 43-year-old fingerprints all over it.

Her eyes grow wide and twinkle with excitement when she talks about how most of the world’s agates formed in volcanic rocks or ancient lava.

Moore’s sweet weakness is agates. What shoes do to some, stones do to Moore. She might try, but she can’t resist them.

“Agates make my mouth salivate,” said Moore, who has been a waitress for 28 years and began making the agate necklaces 13 years ago. “It takes me at least two hours to buy them.”

Don’t get the wrong inference though. She is not the Imelda Marcos of agates. However, she does have a sizable collection that she uses to produce her signature necklaces.

Each agate necklace, with prices ranging from $25 to $40, has its own personality established by Moore.

An agate embodying shades of ecru, for example, is adored with tiger’s eye stones to bolster its brilliance.

She takes about 35 minutes to style each necklace after choosing an agate. A soldering iron is used to adhere copper foil to the edges of each piece.

This allows melted solder she applies next to stick to the agate’s sides. Then, Moore uses the soldering iron again to form raised bumps of solder at intervals around the agate. She later decides whether the stone goes naked, or if she should dress it up with beads. This decision depends upon how she interprets each agate’s individuality.

“I’m into textures and patterns,” Moore said. “I handpick each stone and then I envision what I want to do with it. Whether it needs beads or not, or the Pawleys Island shell (also known by its proper name of the Imperial Venus clam).”

Moore also uses oyster shells to craft unique jewelry statements. Folks donning her artistry around their necks enjoy the flattering conversations that result from others noticing their necklaces.

“You actually get to wear a piece of art,” Moore said while working on pieces of jewelry in a workspace set up in her living room. “No two pieces are the same. Each is different and unique. I never make the same thing.”

She does, however, share the glory and gives space in her home to creations produced by her children and others, including her brother, John Walters, an award-winning painter living in Charleston.

Her house duly doubles as a mini art museum showcasing evidence of her dabbling in an array of mediums besides agate.

Up on the kitchen wall is framed artwork featuring driftwood, crushed seashells, a starfish, and other Atlantic Ocean escapees.

Moore and her 6-year-old daughter, Keenyn, and her 10-year-old son, Zaine, helped collect the items. Then, together, they made a tree from the driftwood with the pulverized seashells and the starfish as backdrops.

Stained glass is also one of her art brands. She is a photographer, too.

That’s not all, though. Moore is also an interior designer, with that talent showing up expressly around the house as well. Martha Stewart would surely give her kudos for painting eclectic patterns onto cabinet knobs.

Modest elegance is truly everywhere. Moore is a woman of thrifty habits who can buy something from Goodwill and make it look like it belongs in Good Housekeeping.

Walt Whitman once said, “Simplicity is the glory of expression.”

If Moore’s jewelry and other artwork could speak, undoubtedly it would utter the late, great poet’s words.

You see, dear readers, for Moore more is less. To give what we’ve got doesn’t take a lot of stuff, but it does require a great measure of heart.

Moore simply seals hers in stone.

Contact Johanna D. Wilson at or to suggest subjects for an upcoming column.