Something extremely cool is happening in the jewelry world right now: an all-new exhibition at Sotheby’s that is solely dedicated to celebrating the work of Black jewelers.
Brilliant & Black: A Jewelry Renaissance opened at Sotheby’s New York on September 17th and will run through September 26th. Co-curated by jewelry writer and stylist, Melanie Grant (who is a fantastic IG follow, btw) and Sotheby’s Sale Director of Jewelry, Frank Everett, the exhibition showcases custom-made creations and signature designs by more than twenty of the world’s leading Black jewelry designers spanning a range of periods and styles from the 1950s to the present day and every piece is for sale.
And yes, my darlings, it is as dazzling as you’re imagining. The range of style and personality and sheer luminous beauty is electric. If you’re in NYC, go see this in person. It will be awesome.
I’m not going to waste your time by blathering on when I know we all just want to see the jewelry. I don’t have room to show you all 63 pieces by these brilliant Black jewelers, but I’m going to spotlight some of my faves.
Maggi Simpkins is a jeweler I’ve admired for years. I found her through Instragram and always enjoyed seeing her creative, colorful rings. When I heard she was designing several pieces specifically for Sotheby’s Brilliant & Black, I knew they would be good…but the reality is even more incredible than I had imagined. She BEYOND knocked it out of the park. I mean, LOOK at these rings.
These rings give me chills. When I look at them, I feel them in the pit of my stomach. This is exceptional stones and visionary artistry combined in the best way. Yes, Maggi Simpkins, yes!
Castro is another superstar Black jeweler who you may already be familiar with. If not, congratulations, because you get to see his work for the first time and that’s a treat. It was a real struggle deciding which of Castro’s pieces to show you because they’re all SO COOL.
Born in Ohio and now based in Istanbul, Castro’s work is opulent, elaborate, striking, and always a revelation. Just look at these two pieces and you’ll see what I mean. The necklace on the left, Antique Bisque Doll, converts into a shorter necklace and a detachable pendant – and the doll pendant is wearing a removable mask.
I was trying not to go too in-depth on any particular artist in this post, but I had to give you a closer look at the pendant from the Bisque Doll necklace. On the left is Castro’s other lot in the sale, a pair of earrings. Each design is worth staring at for hours. They almost have a Renaissance jewelry vibe, don’t you think? What an incredibly talented artist.
Art Smith is a full on jewelry icon/legend. An avid supporter of dance who was known for his support of gay and Black civil rights, Smith is considered one of the leading modern jewelers of the mid-century. Not only did he open his own shop in the 1946’s, but Smith’s work sold in department stores in the 1950’s and has been repeatedly featured in Vogue, and exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum and Cooper Hewitt.
My eyes love to dance across the whorls of this Art Smith necklace – my gaze is pulled up and down and across. I can’t resist it.
Almasika by Parisian-born Catherine Star is a brand I already know and love. Utterly chic and luscious, the designer’s work is heavily inspired by meaningful symbolism like the cowrie shell that forms the building block of these gorgeous black rhodium and diamond earrings earrings. The cuff and the other pair of earrings are buttery 18K yellow gold with tsavorite garnets.
That ridged gold just looks so satisfying to touch, doesn’t it? I want to pet that cuff bracelet.Read More