Second life artisans use coal heritage connections to honor the industry
Art Business

Second life artisans use coal heritage connections to honor the industry

“I think that’s the allure of our jewelry — the fact that it is our history and it is our heritage,” said Dameron, the creative force behind Beckley-based West Virginia Coal Jewelry. Handmade in a studio in her home, Dameron incorporates bits of West Virginia coal and other keepsakes like coal scrip into every piece she makes. Coal scrip, which generally looked like metal tokens, was the currency of coal towns. Rather than pay cash, coal companies would give their workers scrip they could spend in the company store for whatever they needed. “It was like gold — the only currency they had at the time,” Dameron said. “Using scrip in jewelry, that’s the history of it. The coal itself is beautiful, but the scrip part, that’s what hits home with people — it means something to them. People can buy all sorts of beautiful jewelry, but when they see a piece of jewelry with scrip on it, they instantly will tell you stories about going to the company store when they were young.” Coal fuels America, or at least it used to. Falling prices, automation, competition from natural gas and renewables and ever-tightening environmental regulations have squeezed the […]

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