And now, in 2014, her jewelry making business, Abrau Jewelry, is getting big exposure: On the 14th episode of the television drama “The Vampire Diaries,” in its fifth season on The CW.
“I’m telling you, it’s so weird,” King said. “I said this is going to be my year.”
The necklace, an 18-inch gold piece with a garnet stone, recalls a drop of blood, appropriate for its wearer, Caroline, a vampire played by actress Candice Accola.
The opportunity is perfect for King, who believes in symbolism beyond the number 14: Vampires exude passion and strength, both of which are encapsulated in the red medallion. The vintage aesthetic recalls vampire’s immortality.
King submitted her design via The Artisan Group, an arts promoter based in California that tempts Hollywood with handmade products. Celebs often pose for photos with the maker’s goods, which artists can then use for promotion.
King has already sold 15 of the pendants, a large number for a one-woman operation. She also got her business cards tucked into the celebrity swag bags for this year’s Golden Globes.
But she didn’t start at the top.
King grew up in Swanton and graduated from Missisquoi Valley Union in 1994. Soon after, she went to Florida to pursue a modeling and acting career, a venture that only lowered her self-esteem.
After her grandfather died, she moved back to Vermont, went through a difficult divorce and moved eight times in three years. She met Matt, and they moved to their Maplewood Avenue home where King found solace in painting. One day, she decided to copycat an expensive bracelet, and even though it didn’t come out so well, King was hooked.
Honing her skills with online classes and a child-sized loom, King posted a “boho chic” beaded bracelet for sale on eBay. It sold within a few hours.
“I made something with my own hands, and somebody liked it enough to buy it,” King recalled.
Soon, Abrau Jewelry was born. The name, pronounced ah-bray-you, is another serendipitous story. King’s oldest son, Nico, started calling her that. Curious, King researched the word online and found it’s the name of a lake in Russia, the same region where her father’s ancestors lived.
“I feel like it was meant to be,” King said.
Today, King makes her jewelry in her dining room, a hexagonal space with flowing curtains and large windows that afford views of Lake Arrowhead. The walls in the adjacent living rooms are adorned with paintings she made, including one of her and Nico where he’s wearing angels’ wings, symbolizing how much she misses him when he’s visiting his dad.
Her pieces reflect her own story and beliefs. Many invoke Buddhist symbols, like lotus flowers and the “ohm” symbol. One necklace was inspired by a time her credit card declined when she tried to buy Nico an after-school snack; a woman purchased it for her and told her to pay it forward. The gold arrow necklace now takes on that name, and King donates a portion of proceeds to Hunger Free Vermont.
She also supports Make-A-Wish, Women Helping Battered Women in Burlington and Burton Snowboards’ Chill Foundation that helps underserved youth.
“It means something to me, because I’ve been there,” she said.
So for her jewelry to make it to the small screen, King was ecstatic.
“It was just that rush of excitement and adrenaline. It makes you feel validated, basically,” King said, something she never felt as a model. “I was jumping up and down, screaming, actually.”
King will celebrate her accomplishment with a viewing party. Episode 14, “No Exit,” will air on The CW on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. She’s not sure how it will feel to see her necklace worn by a TV star.
“It’s a weird feeling for sure,” she said. “It’s exciting, though, and my kids are so proud of me. It’s just a good example to show them they can do anything.”
Learn more about Abrau Jewelry, and purchase your own Vampire Diaries necklace at www.abraujewelry.com. Danielle King’s wares can also be purchased at Liebling at 198 College St. in Burlington.