Almost as soon as my family and I got settled in California after our move from Seattle, I was presented with an incredible opportunity to join the team at pioneering direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand, Vrai (formerly Vrai & Oro), as their designer. I have been following Vrai since their inception, so I was thrilled to partner with a brand whose values and aesthetics align so well with my own.
Vrai is significant because as an initially self-funded, female-founded brand, they were one of the very first direct-to-consumer brands offering fine jewelry, completely upending the staid, traditional jewelry market with their clean, simple, modern approach. With sustainability as a cornerstone of their values, they were also one of the first companies to offer lab-grown diamonds (powered by renewable solar energy and 100% traceable) for engagement rings and everyday jewelry.
Over the last few months we have been working together to redesign their full offering from the ground up, from delicate stacking rings to bold, modern, customizable engagement rings.
Here are some excerpts from their journal profile highlighting my role - I was super excited to share more of my process and design philosophies with them (and you!)
All photos and interview text courtesy of Vrai.com
In addition to designing her own line, White/Space, Khadijah creates all of our jewelry and engagement designs, transforming her sketchbook drawings to the essentials you're wearing everyday. Read on to hear about her inspiration and design process, as well as hints to our new, exciting designs to come.
Tell us about your path to becoming a jewelry designer. What made you interested in jewelry?
I’ve always been drawn to creating objects for adornment and individual expression, and originally I worked as a designer in fashion for many years before switching over to jewelry.
After making the choice to slow down for a bit (and having my first child), I started to value things that were more versatile, long-lasting and inclusive. As a creator I also was really drawn to the handmade aspect of jewelry, and how something so beautiful, meaningful and joy-giving could be created from such small pieces and focused hand work.
What inspires you?
I honestly appreciate and can get inspired by so many different beautiful things, but I'm constantly drawn to the principles of modernist design, minimalist art and tribal sculpture. The timeless power of simplicity and the general idea of “more from less” is a constant motivator for me.
Another huge inspiration are just my fellow women in general! We are beautiful and stronger than we sometimes realize. I love the idea of creating things that might make women everywhere feel like the treasures they are, whether they are getting something for themselves or getting a piece of jewelry as a gift.
What 3 words describe your jewelry aesthetic.
Streamlined, thoughtful, elegant.
Describe your design process at V&O.
I work with our Founder, Vanessa on establishing what pieces need to be designed, usually there is a message or story we are trying to tell through new designs that we offer, so we will discuss that, and from there I start hand-sketching.
I work by hand first because I’ve always drawn, painted, put various materials down on paper, made jewelry by hand, etc, so it comes much more naturally to me to express ideas that way. I can work ideas out quickly in my sketchbook and I can also do it on the go, whenever I have an idea. For me, usually the quickest way to the soul of something comes from the hand, but the computer is amazing for working out logistics and the functionality of a design.
From my hand sketches, I’ll do 2D illustrator drawings and then our amazing CAD designer, Maki, translates that into a 3D rendering file that can be printed by our manufacturer with accurate measurements of everything down to the fraction of a millimeter.
What are some favorite pieces of jewelry that you own?
I actually have 2 - my engagement ring, designed and made by a British jeweler named Malcolm Betts and an electric sea-foam colored chrysoprase and diamond cocktail ring by a Seattle-based designer named Jamie Joseph. Both of these rings are special to me as they were chosen by my husband for me before I started learning metal-smithing and stone setting. Not only are they special to me because of the occasion for which they were given, but they were both foundational inspirations as I started to learn how to fabricate jewelry and execute my own ideas through stones and metals.
These are my favorite three engagement designs from my work with Vrai!