For Gogo Ferguson it had been a tough morning. A turtle had recently laid eggs in her garden and she eagerly anticipated their hatching in about a month. But when she went out to check on the nest, she found that something had dug them up.

Ms. Ferguson’s heartbreak was palpable. Her reverence for nature borders on the religious. The jewelry designer’s Vineyard Haven storefront is, in a sense, a shrine to it. Each piece on display pays tribute to nature’s beauty and functionality.

Designer is inspired by her grandmother, who taught her to look at nature in new ways. — Maria Thibodeau

Her process hasn’t changed much since she first began designing jewelry as a young girl. She divided her time between Padanaram and Cumberland Island, a 17.5-mile-long island off the coast of Georgia.

“We were always stringing,” she said. “We’d be out with my grandmother riding or hiking or going to the beach, and we’d pick up a sand dollar and it would become ornament.”

Ms. Ferguson’s grandmother Lucy takes on the status of a legend in her recollections. She described her as always wearing a bandana on her head and a buck knife in her belt. She descended from Thomas Carnegie, who purchased most of Cumberland Island in the 1880s. Much of the family’s property is now deeded to the National Parks Foundation.

“She just taught us not only how to respect land, but how to look at nature in different way,” Ms. Ferguson said. “I was just fascinated. I was fascinated by the way a skeleton fit together, how beautiful it was, and how precise it was.”

Ms. Ferguson’s finely tuned way of seeing allows her to spot shark’s teeth effortlessly and to identify a woolly mammoth molar within an instant. She said her Georgia studio is bursting with nature’s inspiration. She partners with metalworkers in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to cast these items.

“I will actually take a box of seaweed, seed pods, bones, whatever my next designs are, and I’ll sit down with my caster, who I actually flew to Cumberland Island, because they think I’m absolutely crazy unless they kind of get how I live,” she said.

She picked up a dolphin disc, which serves the same function for dolphins as it does for humans, cushioning the vertebrae: “It’s got such a beautiful pattern, so I made a mold and cast it in silver and gold.”

She continued: “I just think that somehow we’ve gotten away from the beauty of our surroundings and it’s all plastic and glitter. And it’s just, nature has been slowly perfecting itself for millions and millions of years and I think we kind of bypass it. We need to stop and look at it again.”

She also had pragmatic reasons for turning her long-standing passion into a business.

Creating jewelry the old fashioned way — by hand. — Maria Thibodeau

“It was a matter of survival which started this company for me,” she said. As a young, single mother without other options, she returned to her family’s inn on Cumberland Island.

“I worked every job I needed to at Greyfield, my family’s hotel, and raised Hannah and started my jewelry with literally bones, fishing wire, and I sort of had a captive audience there,” she said, referring to tourists’ perennial desire for souvenirs.

Later she started casting her found treasures in silver and gold, and the business took off. She began selling her jewelry on the Vineyard in the 1990s. Growing up near New Bedford, she often sailed around the Island as a child, but did not step on land until 34 years ago, when Trudy Taylor invited her to spend a summer here. Ms. Ferguson and her daughter quickly came to love the Island.

She added that Georgia can reach uncomfortably high temperatures in the summer. “I like to migrate with the birds,” she said.

So Ms. Ferguson kept coming back, eventually returning with her husband David Sayre. For 13 years she had a store across the street from the Black Dog.

After a family tragedy—the death of her stepdaughter—Ms. Ferguson sold her Vineyard home and closed her store. The family moved to Mexico to recuperate. But eventually they returned to the Island, and a few years ago, she opened up another storefront, her current location at 80 Main street in Vineyard Haven.

“For me, I have to work, and if I have to work the rest of my life, I’m going to do it in beautiful places,” she said.

In life, as in her jewelry, she carries forward her philosophy that nature on its own provides more than enough.

“It’s very simple, our lives are very simple,” she said.