Elizabeth Locke

Millwood, Virginia


Elizabeth Locke happily stumbled onto her career as a jewelry designer nearly thirty years ago when she was sent to Bangkok on assignment for Town & Country magazine. There she discovered a small group of talented goldsmiths who made jewelry completely by hand, using techniques that had not changed in centuries. Finding the craftsmanship extraordinary, but the designs mundane, Elizabeth armed herself with a degree in gemology and began designing bold jewels that the Thai goldsmiths could create for her.

Elizabeth’s love of the classics and ancient crafts began at age 11, when her father took her to Italy for the first time. The graceful goddesses, sphinxes, and caryatids enchanted her. Elizabeth vowed to learn to speak Italian and move to Italy—both promises that she kept as she received a graduate degree in Italian literature from the University of Florence, then spent six years running her first business in Italy.

Her love of plants and gardens even predates her love of the classics. As a small child growing up in Staunton, VA, she and Toby the cat helped her father plant and tend an organic vegetable garden. She continues this passion today at Clay Hill, her home in Clarke County, VA, where in addition to two gardens devoted to vegetables and cut flowers there are box parterres, a greenhouse for cycads and orchids, a lily and lotus pond, and a limonaia for her citrus trees. Dahlias are her foremost gardening passion in Virginia, while at her home in Beaufort, SC, she looks forward to camellia season each winter. 

Elizabeth and her husband, John Staelin, are ardently interested in architecture and gardens around the world. Elizabeth and John have been members of the Garden Conservancy Society of Fellows since 2013 and look forward to future Garden Conservancy garden-study trips. She was elected to the Garden Conservancy board of directors on September 9, 2020.