LeAnita Ragland-Brooks: Jewelry Designer, Winnetka

When fifth generation artist LeAnita Ragland-Brooks creates a work of art and sells it—even though she knows it will be worn and appreciated—she has trouble letting go.


“There’s a little separation anxiety,” she says with a laugh. “It’s like a child. It’s a piece of me going out into the world.”

But when a client calls to tell her that she loves the necklace that Ragland-Brooks has designed and made, the exhilaration makes letting go worth it.

Ragland-Brooks designs jewelry using semi-precious stones and pearls from around the world, working to find a synergy in the combination of materials. She works with Tibetan artists and chooses stones from far-off places such as Hong Kong, Poland and Africa.

“I find there’s energy in real stones and pearls. When you put it all together, there’s a spark,” she says.

She knows each stone and pendant well enough to tell the wearer about their origin, and she crafts each piece by hand-an important distinction in a world where so much is made by machine or technology.

As she creates, the married mother of two—an 11-year old daughter and 14-year old son—enjoys sharing her art with her daughter.

“I’m teaching her creativity, but also the business side of being an artist,” says Ragland-Brooks. As a Vice President for Fifth Third Bank, Ragland-Brooks combines business and art in both her jewelry making and her professional life.

“In the corporate world, you need creative skills to lead people.”

As she talks about helping her team achieve and exceed their potential, the same excitement enters her voice as when she talks about crafting jewelry.

“It’s a legacy,” she says, talking about her jewelry, but also her children, marriage and professional successes. “I’m leaving an image on the world. It’s something to know I was there.”

Find LeAnita’s jewelry at Ellen’s on Elm in Winnetka or at leanita.com

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