Meet the Maker: Dune Jewelry & Co.’s Holly Daniels Christensen
Dune Jewelry began on Holly Daniels Christensen’s kitchen table as a creative outlet in 2007.
Using sand from her favorite beaches on Cape Cod and silver findings, Christensen experimented with different techniques until she created the perfect designs to capture sentimental travel and experiences with her jewelry. Fast forward to today, and Dune Jewelry can be found globally in more than 700 retail partners.
Also thriving is an e-commerce business that can personalize handmade jewelry with sand, soil, ashes, clay, flower petals, shells and more.
“In the very beginning, I would take road trips and collect sand around New England,” Christensen said. “Then our customers would start asking to send sand from their vacations, honeymoons and childhood beach homes for their own designs. It doesn’t take a lot of material to craft a design, so we would take whatever was left over and carefully catalog it into our Sandbank.”
The Sandbank now houses sand and Earth elements from more than 5,000 locations spanning all seven continents.
Creating experiential jewelry is the mission of the company and captured in the catchphrase, “live for the moment, then take it with you.” Christensen feels strongly that life’s moments are fleeting and the sentimental value of travel and experiences is priceless. “You can see, touch and wear actual sand or elements from where you’ve been, where you love and where you someday hope to travel to,” she said.
Dune Jewelry also creates memorial jewelry that can contain human or pet cremains. Customers can place custom orders through local retailers or online. “We’re so honored to work with such precious materials and memories,” Christensen said. “We do mix the ashes with a pinch of sand for our process, so if there is a special place you spent time with your lost loved one, we will mix the ashes with that sand, making it even more personal.”
The company recently purchased studio space in Norwood, Massachusetts to house the production operations, a photography studio and a retail space called The Cove. Opened in April 2023, The Cove is filled with unique, sustainable gift items as well as jewelry. In addition to the new headquarters, the company operates a flagship store, Dune Boutique — Harwich Port on Cape Cod and a unique store in the popular cruise port of Ketchikan, Alaska.
“We have about 28 team members that handcraft, custom package and create content to share the unique stories we tell through our jewelry,” Christensen said.
Christensen and her design team are constantly coming up with new designs rather than sticking to a traditional seasonal launch calendar. Their most popular design, she said, is the wave necklace with the signature turquoise gradient. “My creativity comes in waves much like the ocean,” she explains. “The beauty of
Dune Jewelry is that we’re a concept, not a style, so we can apply our patented process to whatever style is trending at the time,” she said.
Dune Jewelry is currently working with more than 700 retailers. “Our most successful retailers are the ones who listen to their customers,” she said. “We always start stores with the most iconic sand or element from their area and let them expand from there. With so many possibilities to customize Dune and price points that fit every budget, it’s important to know what your customer wants, and we will have designs and elements that fit their needs,” she added.
The company also created an exclusive Boutique Collection that is only available in brick-and-mortar locations. That, along with its lifetime warranty and more than $250,000 donated to global causes, helps to tell a compelling story.
Christensen has recently written a book titled “Happiness Comes in Waves Book.” Published by Rock Point, the 208-page book is filled with stories and quotations from ocean advocates and illustrated with photographs of the ocean, shorelines and beaches. She describes the book as a collaboration.
“It includes life lessons I’ve learned from the ocean, sand stories from Dune Jewelry customers and team members, plus quotes from my friends, family and colleagues — all of the incredible women I’ve been lucky enough to connect with throughout my lifetime,” Christensen said. “The ocean is eternal, it’s powerful, and it’s the lifeforce of our planet. Not only does it sustain us, but it brings so much joy and peace to billions of people around the world every day. I’m inspired by women, and this book celebrates not only the ocean but also women around the world. Our power, our beauty and the connection we have to Mother Earth.”
Dune founder Holly Christensen started her company at her kitchen table about 12 years ago. Photo courtesy of S. Robshaw.