Detail image of Cristina Cortez for October 2022 WSYS advertorial.

Handmade with Love

By Lennie Omalza | Photos by Kylene White
Sponsored by: Rosa Jade Jewelry | Louisville, KY | Phone: (502) 523-0892 | | Website:

Cristina Cortez’s jewelry business, Rosa Jade Jewelry, is the result of a long-time goal that was several years in the making. “This little dream of mine has been in progress for six years,” she says, adding that she has always enjoyed designing her own jewelry. But it was her father’s suggestion that she make jewelry out of tagua, a type of nut that grows in palm trees prevalent in their native country, Ecuador, that turned her DIY passion into a full-fledged business.

Cristina thought it was a great idea but kept it in her back pocket, not even thinking of springing into action until 2020, when her twin girls were born. “I guess it took having my daughters to finally inspire me to get started,” she says with a laugh.

The company moniker is a combination of the girls’ middle names — Rose and Jade — with a bit of a Spanish twist. Today, Cristina offers everything from necklaces and earrings to bracelets, rings, and more. Every piece is unique, handcrafted by Cristina and/or her father, and made with tagua provided by a supplier in Ecuador.

Each year she takes a trip to their home country to visit her father and family, connect with their supplier and map out Rosa Jade Jewelry’s production plans for the upcoming year. Sustainable, organic and eco-friendly, once the tagua is cut, dried, and dyed, Cristina and her father determine how much will be needed for their quarterly-collections. As each collection is released, the pieces are sold on her website, in her Etsy shop, and at Work the Metal in Butchertown.

“This little dream of mine has been in progress for six years. I guess it took having my daughters to finally inspire me to get started.”

A fierce animal lover, Cristina is particularly excited about her paw bracelet collection. Available in black, teal, blue, and red, each bracelet features a little paw print and proceeds from the sales benefit local animal organizations. She has already made donations to The Arrow Fund and The Animal Care Society. During October Cristina will be holding an online sale event to benefit Kentucky Humane Society. “I can’t give all the animals a home,” she says, “but this is my way of helping them and the local shelters.”

Cristina adds that tagua is also known as vegetable ivory due to its resemblance to animal ivory. “In a way, people who use tagua are also helping to save the elephants,” she says.

Cristina says that in addition to how she is able to support animals, another thing she loves about her business is how it has strengthened her relationship with her father. “It has brought us closer,” she says. “I have the girls and a full-time job so he’s my employee,” she says with a laugh. “We talk every day, and we’re constantly sending each other pictures of new designs as we come up with them.” In fact, the roses that are featured in several Rosa Jade pieces were designed and handmade by her father.

“I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve had — from my family here and my family back home,” she exclaims. “My husband, my mother-in-law, everyone — they’ve all been so supportive of this little dream of mine.”

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