Photography by Kenrick Mills
Soraya Thornton never imagined she would become a successful jewelry designer—let alone at age 50. Earlier in her life, she pursued a career in computer hardware and software sales, a professional path that required extensive travel and long hours. Things changed after Thornton got married, had two kids, and shifted into a role as a teacher at her children’s school. It was there that Thornton discovered jewelry making.
“I honestly just fell into it,” the now 57-year-old Jupiter local says. “I started working with crystals and beads, and people started to take to my designs. I got an inkling that this could transform into something.”
After designing jewelry part-time, Thornton left teaching behind to launch her company. By her 50th birthday, Thornton marked her third career move—as the owner of La Costa Organic Jewelry. In this role, Thornton and her team strive to make women feel beautiful with hand-crafted natural gemstone and crystal jewelry.
“My birthday was when we launched the brand as it is today,” she explains. “We’ve evolved quite a bit since then, but the whole focus has always been offering something different in the jewelry world.”
In the last seven years, La Costa has established itself as a jewelry leader in a crowded and competitive industry. Thornton’s collection is a staple at luxury resorts, including Mar-A-Lago, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Ritz-Carlton and Biltmore as well as upscale boutiques and art galleries throughout the continental U.S., Caribbean and Hawaii.
“We use no chemicals, heat or color treatments,” she explains of the design process. “Everything is all-natural, and every item is one of a kind because no two stones are ever quite the same. When people see our items, they often think it’s all fine jewelry because of the brilliance, but it’s actually an entirely natural stone concept.”
Through La Costa, Thornton has also given back to the community by donating 10 percent of profits to charities. To date, the company has contributed $200,000 to various local and national nonprofits benefitting cancer research and family services.
“This started as [my own] initiative,” Thornton says. “But now we have about 25 people within the organization. Today I’m focused on both the company and those who make what we do possible. We aim to create jewelry that women can wear anytime and anywhere to feel their best, while also doing good for the community.”