In the fashion industry, longevity matters and Thelma West is living in her fruitful career. Born in Lagos and now based in London, the jeweler’s namesake label Thelma West Diamonds features the rarest stones and gems on the market. “It’s a beautiful journey and I would not change it,” West tells ESSENCE. “I’ve loved every bit of it.”
The designer entered the diamond market at just 19, in which she describes the beginning of her career as “challenging.” From entering the industry as a young Black designer, West details the hardships and lessons it took for her to learn in order to run a successful business. But even after over 15 years of experience, the designer is continuing to hold on to big wins that only cast the reach of her company.
Last month, Thelma West Diamonds was a repeated Black designer worn throughout the ESSENCE January print issue featuring Rihanna in collaboration with Lorna Simpson. “That was insane,” West exclaimed. “I feel incredibly proud. These two Black houses coming together to create for a Black magazine in honor of Black History Month.” The designer’s pieces can be see throughout the spread, Rihanna wearing West’s earring on the cover. Styled by longtime creative partner Jahleel Weaver, the pair incorporated the eye-catching diamonds to accompany mostly every look.
For fashion week, the London native joined ESSENCE on Instagram Live to chat about her response in seeing her work on Rihanna and what she’s hopeful to see change in the fashion industry. Watch below.