Sheryl Jones is one of a kind — literally.
The African-American jewelry designer is currently the only woman of color operating her own brand of bling in New York City’s famous ‘Diamond District.” Her one-of-a kind pieces have garnered much deserved praise as well as legions of devoted private clients. Her attention to the finest details and appreciation for the exquisite nature of the best gemstones is what keeps her in business.
We were able to chat with the New York based designer about her immaculate collection and her take on the market today. Read on for her story and how she worked her dream into a reality…
ESSENCE.com: What inspired your foray into jewelry design and how long have you been in the business?
JONES: I have been doing this since 1998. I started out working for a diamond manufacturer in New York City, after I ended my career in television working for MTV. I took a course at GIA (Gemological Institute of America) on 5thAvenue. They are quite reputable and set the standard for grading diamonds. I took lots of courses trying to decide what to do and get outside my head. Then I ended up taking a week-long diamond course and earned the diamond certificate. I was determined to find a job, and after checking the job board I found an opening with a Belgian man who was opening a family office in Antwerp. I offered to do publicity for his brand if he would teach me how to sort diamonds. He agreed and my apprenticeship began. I learned how to sort diamonds and helped bring in new clients.
ESSENCE.com: How did you start building your own successful brand?
JONES: A lot of people started asking me to make jewelry; mostly engagement rings, wedding bands and pendants. So that’s how my designing career began. I left David, my mentor, and opened my own studio on 39th Street and started doing custom orders. And based on demand, I began designing cuff links and sold them at Sean Jean and Michael C. Fina. That proved to be a successful venture, and through that I was introduced to a new company, a larger manufacturer, and they asked me to design diamond jewelry and also manage their retail space and they also provided me with the opportunity to sell my pieces.
ESSENCE.com: Where do you draw inspiration for your pieces and who is your target customer?
JONES: My inspiration comes from the stones. It all starts there. My current collection is a departure from my usual design ethic, which is to make clean, classic and timeless pieces. With this collection, I am trying to access what is already there. The line is for people that like something different. The idea is to make people think outside the box of the typical diamond.
ESSENCE.com: How would you rate the jewelry market today?
JONES: I think the market is amazing right now. When I started, there were very few things outside the “Tiffany box” — lots of white gold. No creativity, no use of different types of materials, just custom and fine jewelry. Since I have been in the business, things have expanded and fine jewelry is being made out of everything. People are much more aware of the environment and more open to wearing different things, a piece of art or something unique. People are also more individualistic in their style and approach, whether it’s the way they wear their hair or the nail polish they choose, jewelry has become much more than wearing something to go somewhere nice. You can stack a pair of inexpensive bangles with a $10,000 ring and it’s going to work. That interplay is something new and refreshing. It makes jewelry much more exciting and competitive. People are paying attention. Now everything goes.
ESSENCE.com: What do you forecast as the trend for summer?
JONES: Big, bold colors, and bigger chains. I see a lot of fun chains coming back, not just Tiffany cable chains anymore. It’s now bigger and more exaggerated and geometric shapes. People are now layering things, so you can wear a big cable necklace and another smaller necklace underneath it to create that effect. Bracelets are still hot and in style. Big cocktail rings, big cuffs, and big shoulder duster earrings and accents on bracelets and necklaces are also a mainstay. So basically, what used to be that WOW factor like big diamond hoop earrings are now the staple. Big is in.
ESSENCE.com: Where can potential customers access your pieces?
JONES: You can stop by Ozuro Fine Jewelry, which is located at 578 5th Avenue, # 38, New York, NY, or log on to SherylJonesDesigns.com.