The Herald News - May 6, 2007
By Jessica Latimer
Photos by Jack Foley

Susan Howard finishes one of her pieces at her workbench in Rehoboth. Above, Howard holds a steel "hub" used to create the die from which a pendant is struck. The original, full-size structure, carved in resin, is in the background.

A Mother's Message
Inspiration is found in a friend's journey to bring life into this world

REHOBOTH – He was born eight weeks early and she calls him her “little miracle.” His name is Lucan Mitchell and his mom, Lori Accardi, had moments when she did not know if she would ever be blessed with a baby.

A mother’s love for her child is one that does not falter and is non-negotiable. Whether the child is carried naturally or adopted, there is a maternal bond. And when Mother’s Day arrives each year in May after weeks of rain, it is no coincidence nature comes out of its dormancy and awakens in shades of deep pinks and organic greens.

Many agonize over what to get their mom – a bouquet of flowers, a mother’s ring complete with each child’s birthstone or maybe a sentimental card – knowing that nothing will ever be enough to show their gratitude for the gift of life. But what about a prayer of sorts?

Susan Howard originally planned on being a teacher, but after discovering her skills as a goldsmith in high school, she has been in the industry ever since. She has worked for renowned jewelers throughout England for more than 20 years sizing rings and doing repairs, but it was only during Accardi’s struggles to conceive that Howard began designing her own jewelry line.

Howard and Accardi are not your typical friends. They grew up in the same neighborhood in Somerset. They are both fully committed to their faith and have wanted nothing more than to be mothers, and great ones at that. With Howard’s second joy being matchmaking, she introduced Accardi to the man who would eventually become her husband, Kevin, now the proud father.

But things were not always that easy. After enduring a miscarriage from a natural pregnancy, the trials and tribulations of invitro fertilization and later an ovarian cancer scare, Accardi was near wit’s end and ready to accept the fact she may never be a mother.

Running a day care center out of her house, Accardi soon offered a home to one of the children (a foster child), 2-year-old Mia, and started the adoption process. “I thought at the time, ‘Maybe Mia is it,” Accardi admits.

Quietly, Howard remained optimistic and prayed for Accardi. A mother of three beautiful girls herself – Hannah, 7, Rebecca, 6 and Sarah, 3 – Howard knew Accardi “would hold her own baby someday.”

Designing jewelry is “a new inspiration that has come to me through my faith,” Howard confesses. A self-proclaimed Christian jewelry designer, her first piece is a pendant titled “A Greater Love.”

“I am always inspired through human emotion.” Howard notes, who wrote the prayer based on the feeling she had after becoming a mother. Although the piece was designed before Accardi even successfully conceived, Howard waited until the baby shower to give the bracelet to her. Accardi recalls: “It was one of the first gifts I opened… everyone had tears in their eyes. It is so special to me.”

A few minutes and several comments and tissues later, Howard realized she was on to something. “I am so passionate about creating this line and seeing its effect. “Now the prayers and coordinating sculptures keep coming to her. Although each pendant has a prayer on it, Howard describes them as “nondenominational.” She adds, “they are for anyone who believes in a god.’

Part of the Comfort Wear line, for those who are celebrating a life occasion or grieving over one, “A Greater Love” shows a woman embracing a baby on one side and a prayer on the other: “My beautiful child I love you so. How much I prayed for you. I want you to know. A precious gift from the Lord up above. Never have I felt a greater love.”

Howard took a moment to explain the process: she first does a sketch and then has an artist refine it; simultaneously the prayer comes to her – it usually rhymes. Everything is done that goes into making the actual pendant and then Howard does all the finish work on the piece.

Although Howard has only been designing for about a year, those who have bought or received one of her pieces as a gift are truly moved and the line is taking off. “It is beautiful. I am so honored that she made it and that she was inspired by my story,” Accardi says.

“I have been getting a lot of orders for Mother’s Day, baby showers and from husbands to new mothers,” Howard says. “Many women felt that this is how their mother feels about them.

After a year of negotiations, Howard just received a commitment and is waiting on a contract from the largest jewelry manufacturer in the country: Struller, out of Louisiana. She still finders herself stumbling over the idea of labeling herself a jewelry designer, but is humbled when her children tell people, “My mommy is a jewelry designer.” Howard adds, “My children know that mom’s faith is inspiring her to do this… This entire experience has been a blessing.”

And speaking of blessings, Accardi, wearing her bracelet, recently enjoyed her first excursion out with her family: Kevin and Mia – they are due to find out in May if they can officially adopt her – and their 2-month-old miracle, Lucas Mitchell. “I really do believe in miracles; I am holding one,” Accardi says.

For those interested in purchasing “A Greater Love,” the pendant is available in silver or gold and can be put on a coordinating bracelet or necklace at Hannoush Jewelers at the Swansea Mall and Pierce Jewelers in Somerset.

Susan Howard displays one of her finished pendants at her workbench in her home in Rehoboth.

 

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