Athens Style: Great Dame

Great Dame

Katherine Ball: The Face Behind Great Dame Jewelry

Words and Photos by Christy Rogers. 

“Complacency is the devil.”

Katherine Ball is a woman after my own heart. Clad in all black, we sat together at Hendershot’s Coffee and laid our lives out on the table. A passionate dreamer, Ball spoke to me with a surefire, yet humble confidence and dug into how both her career as an up-and-coming musician and her Great Dame jewelry line strive to be as far away from that “devil” as possible.

Great Dame

As a child, Ball’s first instrument was her voice. When she was only three she made the jump to piano, teaching herself scales and techniques as well as picking them up in her various music classes at school. Much of her influence came from church – Ball split her time between two churches, one hymn-oriented and the other soul-centered. Always learning and craving more singing and piano techniques, Ball was forced with the choice – “It became about living inside the box versus being able to compromise and harmonize and experiment.”

Ball definitely broke the norm in her teens, hiding out in her car and blasting Metallica and Black Sabbath on her way to gymnastic meets and other events. Even though her music now is Southern Gothic inspired, both genres hit close to the cuff. “I grew up in an environment where people said how to act so I tried to act against them,” Ball says. “It’s about taking control back into the artist’s hands.”

Great Dame

That, Ball definitely did. Opting to spend time honing her melodic craft in college, she graduated and moved out to Colorado where she found the person she wanted to be. “It’s like a blank slate kind of,” describes Ball, touching on the weight some history can hold. “And it’s like, ‘Are you gonna let it control you and sink your ship or are you going to make something beautiful out of it?’”

Eventually Ball moved back to Georgia, packing with her so many of the earthy, honest attributes of Colorado and channeling them into her music and jewelry. Picking up the guitar as well, Ball traveled up the Mississippi River with a band, eventually leaving to go through grad school at UGA. “Athens has so many things available at your fingertips that if you just kind of let go, some pretty cool stuff will happen,” Ball praised.

Great Dame

Aside from her music, Ball dedicates much of her time to working on the pieces for her brand Great Dame Jewelry. Mixing in flavors of the East, Great Dame revolves around the idea of empowering women by celebrating the talents and joy that are already inside them.

Reflecting this idea, Ball blends antiques, mostly comprising the metals, from her father’s side and a gemmed, earthy character from her mother’s side, all while taking inspiration from them to support small businesses across the US. “We are living in a new Renaissance age. People are out here honing their crafts and should support each other.” Thus, the brand is about so much more than jewelry – every piece tells the story of a “revivalist, sexy, classic, empowered” woman carrying an air of timelessness around her neck or wrist.

Even though the ladies sporting Great Dame are timeless, they are far from complacent. They echo the ideas of constantly discovering your own natural gifts, refining them until they’re exceptional, and not being afraid to get uncomfortable and show them off.

Great Dame