Last updateTue, 17 Apr 2018 11pm

College jewelry maker’s two-year “Made in USA” odyssey keeps American jobs from moving overseas

Collegiate Bead Company will keep production and growth in U.S. through partnership with Terryberry

(ROYAL OAK, Mich.) – A Detroit area jewelry maker’s unwavering refusal to move production to China led him on a two-year cross-country odyssey. The journey ultimately brought him home to Michigan and to a partnership with Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Terryberry that will enable Royal Oak, Mich.-based Collegiate Bead Company to create up to 50 jobs in Michigan and keep the company’s college beads, sorority bracelets and charms as truly “Made in USA” products.

College-Bracelet-NovDave Schowalter, owner of Collegiate Bead, knew he had a desirable product and knew that meant his company could create jobs. The son of an Alaskan gold miner, he wanted those to be American jobs, but needed a manufacturing partner who could make a large volume of the high quality beads for an affordable price within the United States. “Two years and many miles later, Collegiate Bead is poised for rapid growth, including the creation of dozens of American jobs,” says Schowalter.

Terryberry is a leader in the employee recognition industry. Terryberry will produce metal molds for Collegiate Bead Company’s beads, charms and bracelets featuring the licensed logos of more than 120 colleges and more than 20 sororities. Retailers interested in distributing Collegiate Bead Company products will find information at www.collegebeadco.com.

“I never stopped believing I’d find a way to make high quality college jewelry affordably right here in the United States,” Schowalter said. “I could have saved a lot of time and made a lot of money by moving production to China last year. I didn’t want to sacrifice quality or allow jobs that could improve lives here in America to move overseas.”

Utilizing the production capabilities of its new partner, Collegiate Bead is adding items featuring enameled school colors to its product lines and will expand its offerings to include college charms, sorority bracelets and other accessories featuring the marks of leading American universities and Greek organizations. Production will happen both in Grand Rapids and in the Detroit area.

According to Schowalter, growth opportunities for Collegiate Bead could include sports licensing agreements with organizations like the National Football League (NFL) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Collegiate Bead also customizes beads for high schools and community organizations and offers items featuring the names of popular travel destinations.

College-MSU-ring-NovThe more than 140 beads and other college jewelry products available include those depicting licensed logos of Texas A&M University, Ohio State University, University of Florida, University of Illinois and University of Michigan, as well as sororities Delta Zeta and Kappa Delta.

Schowalter developed the idea for Collegiate Bead while re-teaching himself to read following brain surgery. Up late one evening determined to read e-mailed well wishes from customers of the jewelry store his family has owned for generations, Schowalter came across an inquiry about sorority beads fitting Pandora or Chamilia charm bracelets. He scoured the Internet and found no such product, a market niche that needed to be filled. From there, Collegiate Bead was born.

Today, Collegiate Bead sells more than 100,000 college beads, sorority bracelets, charms and other college jewelry annually through outlets including QVC.com, university bookstores and jewelry and gift shops around the country. The high quality, hand-finished beads are made in the United States. Retailers interested in distributing Collegiate Bead Company products will find information at www.collegebeadco.com.