Marvin Douglas Linares is on a mission to change how the world views and defines fine jewelry designers. Take a look at his eponymous line, Marvin Douglas, and you’ll agree: the Palmdale, California native and inaugural Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative participant is well on his way to forging his own path.
Jewelry was a passion for Linares early in life. In the 1980s, shortly after moving to California from El Salvador, Linares’s grandmother began working for a small Los Angeles jewelry store, which was left to her after the store owner died. Though she focused more on selling jewelry than making it, Linares attributes his grandmother for his development of jewelry design appreciation at such a young age.
How did growing up in a desert community in Southern California influence your approach to jewelry design?
Marvin Douglas Linares: It was an interesting place to grow up. I feel like a lot of powerful people come out of there because you have time to focus on your craft. There’s just not much else to do except become an expert at what you love doing. I wouldn’t trade that for growing up in the city or growing up in a super cool place. It’s the desert that made me.
What has your experience in the jewelry industry been like so far?
MDL: It’s a journey. I feel like I’ve worked so hard just to get to the starting line of the jewelry world. If it wasn’t for programs like EDDI, I wouldn’t even have access to the things I have access to now. With me being young, me dressing the way I do in a fine jewelry setting, I feel like it automatically makes people not trust me. Because of my age, I look like I lack experience, and the way I dress is not business attire. I’m not your traditional fine jewelry person; I don’t embody what fine jewelry is known for as of now. So that has been a struggle as far as production. I’ve had to go to the jewelry district and knock on doors, make phone calls. And most of the time that door has not been open.
How would you describe your natural diamond jewelry collection?
MDL: It’s a merger of worlds. You can see this in my classic signet ring with a nugget interior incorporating diamonds. The nugget is something I saw growing up. It’s huge in Latin culture. Nugget rings were big in the 80s and 90s. The texture reflects my desert upbringing. To me, it’s almost like the earth that I grew up on. I was inspired by the Gold Rush and California culture and the natural diamonds. I want to use white diamonds, but I also want to incorporate some brown and yellow diamonds to play off those earthy tones.
This whole collection definitely ties into Los Angeles, El Salvador and Latin heritage. It’s everything that made me who I am today. This collection represents a huge part of me, even deeper than what the jewelry shows.
What kind of story do you hope Marvin Douglas can tell through jewelry?
MDL: I want this collection to show that even if you come from places like where I come from, you can still put art out into this world and you can still create beautiful, fine jewelry.
I want to be known for my heritage and culture, but I don’t only want to be known for that. We don’t want to feel like we’re separated from the industry because we’re from wherever we’re from, and that shouldn’t define us. Our art should define us.
How did you develop your in-depth knowledge of jewelry?
MDL: Through work experience. It wasn’t until I got the opportunity to work for Tiffany & Co. that I started getting extensive and specific training in different parts of the business. That’s where I really learned how to sell pieces, romanticize the product and tell stories. Working for a legacy brand with such extensive heritage, you learn a lot. By the time I went over to Dover Street Market, I was hosting trainings for every employee. And even now, through EDDI, I did the diamond course through De Beers and got certified. That was a huge opportunity and now I at least have one certificate.
Who would you love to see wear your Marvin Douglas jewelry designs?
MDL: I would love for Rihanna to wear my stuff, but who wouldn’t? I would love to make the Super Bowl ring. I would love to make jewelry for the Royal Family. I don’t want to be put into one category.
Collaborations are huge nowadays, and my goal is to collaborate with big brands. I want to collaborate with casinos, hotels, get contracts to do championship rings for the NBA and for the MLB.
What do natural diamonds add to your jewelry designs?
MDL: The fact that I’m even able to work with natural diamonds is something special in itself, but they definitely add value to your product because a natural diamond is a masterpiece. It’s made by the earth, but its beauty is brought out by humans. It’s showing what humans are capable of as far as craftsmanship, and it’s also highlighting nature’s beauty at the same time. So natural diamonds to me are that much more special because of that.
Why do you think we’re seeing more men openly embrace diamond jewelry for themselves?
MDL: There’s an added sex appeal to jewelry. It just looks good. It’s visually appealing. And it’s also highlighting what we come from. This is from the earth and we’re wearing parts of its beauty. I don’t see anything wrong with whatever gender you associate with wearing jewelry. And I think that moving forward, I hope everyone’s wearing jewelry.