Before she became known as one of a handful of young talents shaking up the look and perception of fine jewelry, designer Ana Khouri was a budding sculptor. And the shapely, thoughtful lines of her sophisticated designs blur the boundary between art and jewelry. Each of her almost-minimalist pieces arcs around the body in a way that feels modern and unconventional. They also look effortlessly cool but Khouri racks up months developing each piece.
The diamond Mirian ring and Christina earrings are so distinctive. What was the inspiration behind each?
With time I’ve come to appreciate that the only way to create something new is to make something that is extremely personal. You have to strip away the nonessential, distill what remains into its pure form and channel only the energy that is essential to who you are into your work. For me, that means an approach to jewelry that did not exist before. It’s a desire to make something that does not remind anyone of any other thing. I would like to create pieces that are not simply beautiful, but ones that move you.
You have a background in sculpture. How does that discipline relate to jewelry?
I believe my background and love of sculpture allows me a deeper understanding of the creative possibilities and a freedom that weren’t being explored in jewelry design. The designs are about the myriad ways that a piece can take shape on the wearer, and the balance the work creates with the body, connecting to it. The pieces adapt to the body, becoming an extension of it. It’s about empowering the woman by molding the pieces to her body, and as she moves the movement of the pieces complement her own and vice versa.
Where does the design process begin? Do you sketch? Start with stones?
My process and technique have consistently stayed the same. The way I start every piece is still the same for both sculpture and jewelry. I start by molding them by hand. The process is important to me because it is very intuitive and intimate. I work on making the overall piece and then I find a way to add functionality. The process of design is as important as the result. I normally spend up to 6 months on each design.
Most of your work features natural diamonds. How did you make that choice?
Given the fragile state of the planet, our ability to live within its biological capacity must be our priority from here on out. As individuals and artists, each of us has a unique obligation to these principles. Every aspect of our lives and our work depends on the precious resources the earth has shaped for us over the span of time. For our part, choosing to work with ethical and responsibly sourced natural diamonds means reducing our footprint as a jeweler and empowering the forces for change in the industry.
Do you have any significant personal memories that are connected to diamond jewelry?
My first memory was my mom getting ready and choosing what to wear from her jewelry box. She would choose jewelry first and then her outfit.