Paula is a self-taught jeweler. A student at Appalachian State University with a B.A. in psychology, she made some cut coin jewelry after graduation and her career began. Over the years she has augmented her training at Penland School for the Arts, Hollands School for Jewelers, Gemvision for CAD instruction, and received her certification in diamond grading from the Gemological Institute of America. In 1983 she wholesaled her first line and went on to exhibit with the Jewelers of America, the American Craft Council and the Buyer’s Market of American Craft. She also opened her store, Jewels That Dance, in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1993 the Jewelers of America named her one of the top twelve new designers in the country.
In the late nineties, Paula stopped wholesaling to concentrate on her store. Voted “Best Jewelry Store” by The Mountain Express 15 years in a row, Jewels That Dance was an artistic nexus for the vibrant downtown Asheville scene. Paula kept her skill set sharp with jewelry restoration and repair, retailed her own collections and other designers she admired. But most importantly, she pursued her passion — creating extraordinary custom jewelry. Paula is no ordinary goldsmith. Her ability to interpret a client’s desires sets her apart. That intuitive talent plus 45 years of artisanal experience made closing her retail business a logical step. Paula Dawkins Fine Jewelry opened in March 2020.
Paula now specializes in custom jewelry and service by appointment only, but not to worry. She still lives in Asheville and still drives around on her tractor playing farm girl, diamonds glistening in the sun.
Pete Suder is a custom design jeweler with 38 years in the business. A South Jersey native who learned his craft looking over the shoulders of great jewelers at Best Products in Cherry Hill, he also completed a course in advanced stone setting at The Gemological Institute of America. Pete met Paula in 2006 and the two have been working together ever since. It’s proved to be a rewarding partnership. Bringing Paula’s creative designs to life is what Pete loves best about the business.