Although I’m not from Montana (I’m Canadian), I spent a fun-filled 5 years completing my undergraduate degree in the small ski town of Bozeman, MT. I received my first Montana necklace as a birthday present, and after devastatingly losing it somewhere on a ski hill, I received my second necklace as a graduation gift. Going past the obvious fact that the item is copper pendant necklace, the interesting design aspects include the user’s desire to represent a place of meaning and the nostalgia that is associated with physically wearing an item that represents a past home.
Lots of different Etsy shops, local boutiques, and major stores have made all sorts of different jewelry to embrace the ‘state pride’. This also isn’t a new concept; the root idea is as simple as flying an American flag at the front of your house to show your patriotism, but perhaps, this pride in jewelry form is displayed in a more delicate, personal way.
The interesting aspect of this particular necklace is that the local shop where it was purchased (just off of Main Street, Bozeman MT), did not start in Montana. I could have been certain that the artist designed the necklace with Montana roots, eager to share her pride, but in fact, Tessa started the company- Hattie Rex- in Missouri. She began by wanting to make a unique dog tag for her new puppy. All of the dog tags she found were mass produced, machine stamped, and lacked the sentiment she was looking for. So Tessa decided to make her own. And her friends were also interested, and she quickly opened an Etsy shop for personalized dog tags. Then one day, a customer asked if Tessa could instead stamp the customer’s daughter’s name onto the tag, to use as a pendant. At the time, Tessa thought no one would want such a thing, but turns out a lot of people did. And quickly, her shop evolved into human jewelry and dog tags, and custom versions of them both. She later moved to Bozeman and embraced the contagious pride that exists in Montana.
Knowing that my beloved Montana necklace has its design origins on a Missouri puppy was definitely news to me, and speaks to the unexpected trajectory that design can take.