By Chrissy Cifuentes
Crystalyn Aucoin is a New Orleans jewelry designer embodied with purpose. Her newly released jewelry line is stunning and classic. With one of a kind designs like the “Gratitude” and “Strength” pendants, her art is timeless, meaningful and perfect for every day wear. But, many do not know the story behind her inspiration for these captivating designs. Each piece is birthed from a deep love rooted in family connection and unity.
With over 10 years in the jewelry industry, Aucoin has a heart for design. Her jewelry journey began when her sister connected her with Aucoin Hart Jewelers. “My sister loved her job, and I was looking for that same type of passion within my career,” she said. “I found it while working at Aucoin Hart in sales.” It did not take very long for Aucoin to find her knitch. Sales was perfect for her, and she especially enjoyed communicating with customers by making their design dreams become a reality. “I loved helping them with their engagement rings and giving them especially what they wanted for their special day,” she said.
Each day provided a new adventure while working at Aucoin Hart. Her own heart was soon captured by Ryan Aucoin who was a diamond buyer for his family’s business. The two got along perfectly and were married in 2011. The pair made a perfect team, and many could not fathom how they worked so well together. “So many people would ask Ryan how he could stand working with his wife. But, he loved it. Working together was so easy. We had two different styles.”
As the years past, the pair decided to start a family. Crystalyn found out that she was pregnant, and the married couple was overjoyed. However, on the day that they found out that they were expecting a baby boy, tragic news for Ryan was also delivered. “He was having pains in his back,” said Aucoin. “We discovered that he had cancer on the same day that we were told that our child was a boy.” Ryan was only 36 years old when he was diagnosed with lymphoma in his lungs, but he did not let his illness keep him from enjoying his new family. He continued to battle the odds while keeping a positive outlook on the situation. “He would always say that we were so lucky for what he had,” she said. “He wanted us to help others going through financial difficulties and other problems that come with cancer.”
In an effort to conquer Ryan’s cancer, the couple traveled to Texas for a stem cell transplant at M.D. Anderson. According to Aucoin, their family played a huge role in helping Ryan fight his disease. “We had so much love shown to us from our families,” she said. “My mom even moved out to Texas for a little while to be with us.”Ryan and Crystalyn welcomed their new baby boy, Winston, into the world and trio were inseparable. Their bond was unbreakable, and that same bond is the inspiration behind Aucoin’s “Gratitude” pendant. “The interconnected circles represent our relationship as well as all of the people who helped us on our journey,” she said. “We were so grateful for all of our connections.”
After a few short years of intense fighting, Ryan passed away. There child was only 16 months old, and Aucoin found herself at a crossroad. “I was asking myself who I was. What was my identify?” she said. “I was a new mom, and I just lost my husband. I wanted to live with some sort of purpose.” Those thoughts propelled her to seek a new outlet within herself which ignited a new creativity.
For a while, Aucoin hit a creative wall. She found herself not able to express herself in the ways she once did. She took time to discover a new, hidden treasure within and dedicated herself to helping others in similar situations of sorrow. “Ryan was so heartfelt, and I knew that he would have wanted me to help others who were going through cancer battles,” she said. “I decided to get even more involved with my good friend, Chad Landry’s, foundation “New Orleans Lymphomanics”, I also became a member of the Karen T. Stall Research and Breast Cancer Institute.” Aucoin assisted in raising money for these foundations and found a new calling in helping cancer patients, widows and caregivers. Although her new calling gave her life purpose, jewelry was still calling her name. Aucoin knew that a piece of her heart was still with her jewelry career; however, she also knew that it would have to take a new form in order for it to fit her current lifestyle. “I knew that I wanted to be with my son and have flexible hours,” she said. “I also wanted to share my creativity with customers and have a greater meaning for the women who wear my line.”
As Aucoin began to heal, her creativity started to shine as bright as diamonds. The visions for her jewelry line started to take form as she sketched every pendant. Every piece within her line has a meaning to her, but she urges her customers to find a meaning for themselves. “After Ryan passed away, I had a mission to live differently,” she said. “I started designing and feeling inspired to create meaningful, wear forever jewelry that can be passed down.” Unlike many lines that are intricately designed, Aucoin takes pride the in fact that her line is minimalistic. She states that her goal is to have her jewelry become a part of the history of the woman wearing it. “When everyone thinks about their mom, aunt or sister, they can imagine the jewelry that they would wear. It becomes part of their history,” stated Aucoin. “These designs are meant for every-day wear so that it can become a part of them.”
Aucoin is still involved with numerous cancer awareness foundations throughout the city; however, she also realizes that her customers may have different passions that deserve the same recognition. This fact is why Aucoin occasionally gives her customers the choice to donate a percentage of her sales to the foundation of their choice. “I want my jewelry to empower each woman that purchases from me,” she said. “This gives them a way to give back to what they truly care about.”
Through the ups and downs, Crystalyn Aucoin has sought to keep her late husband’s legacy alive though fighting for cancer patients, counseling those who are in pain and raising her son Winston to know the impact of his father. Her line’s brand is simple. It is a mission to give back. This is what Ryan Aucoin wanted, and his wife is honoring this wish with a jewelry line filled with a purpose of kindness, strength and gratitude.