It Takes Courage: Local Utah Artist Designs through Rheumatic Arthritis

Jewelry maker Stacey Jo Rabiger doesn’t let rheumatic arthritis stop her art.

Stacey Jo Rabiger stumbled upon the name for her jewelry business while flipping randomly through the dictionary. The Latin root of the word courage is “cor,” which means heart. Originally, courage, she says, meant “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” In 2011, Rabiger couldn’t predict how the name would manifest itself in her life.

Rabiger creates earrings, necklaces and other jewelry from antiqued brass and set with natural crystals, minerals and stones. “Every stone has its story and its traditional meaning and mythical healing property. Some people are drawn to certain stones because, maybe, there are properties that they think they need,” says Rabiger, adding that the crystals’ individual meanings give the hand-crafted jewelry intention. “I’m actually fairly pragmatic about it, but there’s something mystical and magical about these ancient things that come from the Earth.”

Rabiger never intended to build a business that would provide her a living. But just as production of her chic goods was ramping up in 2014, she felt an affliction in her hands.

A jewelry maker’s livelihood and art comes through her hands, and when Rabiger was diagnosed with rheumatic arthritis, she was devastated. For the better part of a year, she couldn’t make jewelry. She worried she had watched the sun set on her dreams.

Rabiger doesn’t easily sit idle, and when her hands were well enough to work even one or two hours a day, she went full bore. “I won’t be able to do this forever, and I can only work a few hours at a time, but I take advantage of the fact that I can do it now,” Rabiger says. Ker-ij is now her full-time job, and she’s telling her story with her whole heart.


Ker-ij Jewelry can be purchased at boutiques such as The Stockist and Unhinged locations throughout Utah and at events like the Salt Lake City Downtown Farmers Market and Craft Lake City.

written and photographed by: Austen Diamond

Salt Lake Magazine
Salt Lake Magazine
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