Jerry “Jay” Sharpe was honored Sept. 29 by his alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University, as one of the university’s brightest alumni stars.
The biennial event, hosted by VCU Alumni, honored alumni from across the university’s academic units for their remarkable personal and professional achievements.
As a junior at VCU, Sharpe sold seven of his sleek, classic jewelry designs to luxury department store Nordstrom. Graduating a year later with a B.F.A. in Craft and Material Studies with a focus on metalsmithing and fine jewelry, he looked to expand on his early success while working alongside other emerging designers out of the Hand Workshop (now the Visual Arts Center of Richmond).
In 1990, he launched his official brand, the Jay Sharpe Collection, and 10 years later, his own shop in Richmond’s Carytown district, which he ran for two decades. His custom-designed pieces have been worn by celebrities such as Queen Latifah, Brandy, Monica and Pam Grier (“Foxy Brown”).
Sharpe’s second line, Henleava, is an eco-friendly costume jewelry line that has been featured on Bravo TV’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and in Essence, Richmond Magazine and Southern Living Magazine. He has designed an ornament for the White House Christmas tree (Blue Room) and custom cufflinks for Lexus of Richmond and crafted a Texas pendant for the late Jimmy Dean.
Throughout his creative career, Sharpe has continued to teach at VisArts and, in 2014, became one of the organization’s Master Teacher award recipients.