Style Points

Jewelry designers of color shine bright

The Radiance by COUTURE gems at Naples' Marissa Collections showcases emerging fine jewelry designers of color.

BY April 1, 2023
Radiance by COUTURE gems at Marissa Collections
Viviana Langhoff's Fire Ring (Photo by Anna Nguyen)

Diamond purveyors have been raising the stone’s value beyond its carats or how brilliant it looks shining on your finger. Now, jewelers and gemstone dealers are working to deliver gems with purpose.

COUTURE, the preeminent fine jewelry trade show, created their Diversity Action Council to address the lack of representation in the industry. Last year, they partnered with De Beers to create The Radiance by COUTURE, with capsule collections from 13 of the most exciting BIPOC designers today. The modern pieces feature De Beers Code of Origin diamonds, which all have a unique code that guarantees they were mined conflict-free. Marissa Collections’ jewelry buyer Jennifer McCurry returned from last year’s COUTURE show dazzled by the series, and the full collection now lives exclusively on the boutique’s website, where you can be among the few to shop these radiant jewels with a story and soul.

Sara Bautista’s Paradigm and Portals Rings.
Sara’s Paradigm and Portals Rings. (Photo by Anna Nguyen)

Puerto Rican-born Viviana Langhoff is known for her intricate metalsmith work. The Fire Ring—inspired by the Greek belief that the Universe is made up of four elements—burns bright with its 1.14-carat, round-cut diamond. Sara Bautista’s Common Rite Supply brand is layered and cheeky (ask the Marissa team about the Super Smile grill, with a tiny De Beers diamond hanging between gold-plated front teeth). Sara’s Paradigm and Portals Rings reflect on our role in creating a shared reality.

After fleeing Afghanistan as a child and having a successful career as a human rights attorney, Zulaikha Aziz of MAZAHRI, started making jewelry that celebrates the stories and beauty of her native country. Every element has meaning, from the use of lapis lazuli, which has been mined in Afghanistan for thousands of years, to the cosmos motifs that reflect the spiritual connection to the skies, to the ‘Bibi’ name, a title of respect and endearment for grandmothers. The Bibi Pendant with Chain (inspired by a jewel from Zulaikha’s great-great-grandmother) prominently displays a rhombus, MAZAHRI’s signature shape and a symbol for women, creativity and fertility in Afghan design. The Bibi Van Der Velden and Cosmos Dangle Earrings are convertible and can be worn as studs or dangles.

Olivia Shih draws from her experience growing up between the United States and Taiwan as she aims to translate cultural nuances and emotions through jewelry. The glacier-like Lucid Rock Studs use ultralight acrylic and gold to showcase vulnerability and strength.

Sculptural metal jewelry has been in high demand, and few do the look better than Bermudian-born, London-based designer Melanie Eddy. Architecture guides Melanie’s design principles, while constellations play a starring role in her Vega collection, with pieces like the Deneb Slide Necklace and Vega, Albireo and Altair Solitaire Rings (the latter two come with stacking bands).

Ashley Thorne, of A.M. Thorne, considered waves, curved furnishings by Jean Royère and rhythmic flow during breathing meditations with a shamanic herbalist when designing her The Radiance by COUTURE collection, with pieces such as the Kem Cuff and Yemaya Necklace.

The signet ring gets an update at the hands of L.A.-based Maggi Simpkins. Maggi made news in 2021 with her $1 million pink diamond, pink sapphire and ruby masterpiece ring for Sotheby’s “Brilliant & Black: A Jewelry Renaissance” sale. Her Bubble Rings feature hand-cut gemstone inlays, with Australian opal, lapis lazuli and malachite surrounding a De Beers Code of Origin diamond.

Inspired by her British-Jamaican heritage, Kassandra Lauren Gordon, of KLG Jewellery, uses braided elements to frame her designs. The Hairloom Crossing Borders Ring has yellow gold with cornrow-style twists looping around the .70-carat oval diamond.

Pictured in order above (click to enlarge):

  • MAZAHRI: Bibi Pendant with Chain and Bibi Van Der Velden and Cosmos Dangle Earrings
  • Olivia Shih: Lucid Rock Studs
  • Melanie Eddy: Deneb Slide Necklace and Vega, Albireo and Altair Solitaire Rings
  • A.M. Thorne: Kem Cuff and Yemaya Necklace
  • Maggi Simpkins: Bubble Rings
  • KLG Jewellery: The Hairloom Crossing Borders Ring

All jewelry is available at Marissa Collections on Third Street South in Naples.  

Photography by Anna Nguyen

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