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There's something appealing about the idea of ditching your day job to become a jewelry designer; it's a second career so popular among women seeking creative outlets that it was even spoofed this year on Portlandia.

But don't convert your guest bedroom into a jewelry studio just yet. For a taste of what it's like to design your own baubles, try Damen + Division's new earring bar.

Chicago designer and D + D creator Sonia Barrett Esler says it's the first time she's seen this kind of "design-your-own" concept with her line's vintage twist.

Whether shopping online or at the earring-bar outpost in the Gold Coast boutique Sarca, customers can mix and match vintage posts, clips and jewel drops to create the look they want. Prices range from $100 to $135, and the concept has been an early hit with brides organizing wedding-party gifts.

Go bold with a big stone or choose a smaller one to keep your sparkle subtle; either way, the look will be all your own.

Damen + Division earring bar at Sarca, 710 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-255-0900 or

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