Whether you’re looking for diamond jewelry that’s ultra-modern and architectural jewelry, romantic and nature-inspired or filled with the pure glamour that only diamonds can bring, you’ll find it here. Our spotlight on Asian-American designers includes some of contemporary jewelry’s most important names, as well as under-the-radar designers you should know about now. Plus, each boasts a unique vision they want to share with the world, impeccable craftsmanship and, of course, fabulous natural diamonds.
Los Angeles-based designer Anita Ko is known for her contemporary, diamond jewelry and unique designs. Perfect for layering, her everyday pieces are instantly recognizable for their sharp shapes and generous use of diamonds. Ko was also a pioneer of the choker trend, which has since become the signature of her brand. She is also distinguished by her bespoke high jewelry pieces, which, created for collectors, provide the opportunity to use rare stones, like D flawless type IIA diamonds.
“I’ve always had a passion and love affair with natural diamonds,” Anita says. “To me, there’s nothing quite like feeling a perfect diamond in my hands. There’s such a magic to it—the rarity and the energy that comes through are so exciting to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with so many gorgeous stones.”
Aside from her high jewelry designs, Anita uses diamonds to dress up classic pieces. A simple gold chain necklace becomes a masterpiece when covered in pavé diamonds. ”I love how diamonds from one region can speak to me in a different way than diamonds from another; each has its own story to tell,” she says.
Fine jewelry designer Nam Cho had a glamorous international upbringing, growing up in Seoul, Tokyo and Los Angeles before moving to New York City to study fashion design at the world-renowned Parsons School of Design. There, she ultimately decided that fashion wasn’t her calling and she switched to fine jewelry, bringing her trained eye and defined aesthetic with her. She describes her pieces as classic with an edge, which is most notable in her signature Spike collection where she reverse-sets diamonds. The diamond’s pointed culet looks like a glamorous spike, adding a bit of rock and roll flair to the pieces.
“Natural diamonds have a special radiance and timeless beauty that brings my jewelry to life,” Nam says. “I’m always mesmerized by their luminosity and how each diamond I encounter has its own flair.” Many of her pieces have geometric motifs achieved through mixing diamond cuts. Sometimes, she alternates baguette and round diamonds, and in her Invisible collection, she combines small diamonds in one larger setting to give the illusion of large diamonds without the significant price tag. “I use natural diamonds extensively, exploring different cuts, qualities and shapes that resonate perfectly with my designs,” Nam says. “I also love to experiment with different setting techniques, like my signature reverse setting, to showcase the stone’s brilliance in a unique way.”
Kavant & Sharart
The dynamic duo behind Kavant & Sharart, couple Nuttapon (Kenny) Yongkiettakul and Shar-Linn Liew, first met when they were studying at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. While jewelry was always in Kenny’s blood—his father was a jeweler, his grandfather was a goldsmith—it was new to Shar-Linn. They moved to California after graduating, where Kenny studied at the GIA to perfect his craft while Shar-Linn worked in finance. After a few years, she left her career to join him in jewelry design. They are known for their instantly identifiable geometric and curved designs.
Kavant & Sharart’s collections are inspired by nature and Asian arts. The Talay collection is named after the Thai word for ‘the sea,’ and evokes cresting waves in its curved, swirling designs. The all-diamond versions are particularly stunning. Kenny and Shar-Linn agree, saying, “Diamonds symbolic and represent strength.” The sharp, architectural Origami collection is inspired by the ancient Japanese art of folding paper, achieving dimension and the illusion of pleats with different diamond cuts. “We incorporate a combination of baguette and or round brilliant cut diamonds into a majority of our pieces,” the designers say. “They truly make us happy. When it comes to using diamonds in our collection, there is no question about it—nothing can replace natural gems!”
While Katherine Kim designs her KatKim jewelry collection in Los Angeles, she brings a bit of London and New York into her collections. Her studies at two prestigious institutions, Central Saint Martin College of Design in London and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, led her to create a style that’s entirely her own. She is known for pavé diamond designs that are often sharp and architectural, but occasionally softened with curves and larger diamonds set at different angles.
Kim’s ear pins are a signature; in the Allora collection, she features a diamond-set pin that narrows to a sharp point. Part of the pin is set with pavé diamonds, and there are four pear-shaped diamonds incorporated into the design. It personifies her approach, which she describes by saying, “I love the idea of blending the old with the new and creating modern ways to wear them. I really want the diamonds to take center stage and celebrate their uniqueness and individual beauty.” She also features larger stones in rings, which of course have a twist on a classic design. The Duét Pavé ring features two bands, each topped with pear cut diamonds that almost meet in the middle of the ring. Here, as in many of her pieces, the stones dictate the design. “To me,” she says, “there is a rarity and personality to each natural diamond. There’s so much history in the stones and I see the beauty in that.”
A New Yorker through and through, Mimi So was fascinated by gemstones and jewelry at a young age. With a mother who designed jewelry and father who crafted the pieces, So would play with stones and admire the craftsmanship in her parents’ atelier. They encouraged her entrepreneurial spirit and taught her the craft of jewelry design, always pushing her to focus on craftsmanship and precision. She ultimately studied at Parsons School of Design and launched her eponymous brand at just 22. She knew she had the talent and a unique vision that she needed to share with the world. Each collection is inspired by a different chapter in her life, and she creates bespoke pieces for her clients that allow them to tell their own stories through her jewelry, too.
Mimi’s signature Bow collection features a charming array of different bows in necklaces, rings, and earrings; the symbolism is intended to remind women that they are a gift to the world. The Jackson collection features geometric motifs, alternating pure gold and diamond-encrusted shapes. Mimi frequently uses diamonds in her pieces, saying, “I love working with diamonds, mostly because of the joy it brings to others. There is something about the sparkle of a diamond that lights people’s hearts and eyes up.”
While her jewelry is perfect for wearing every day, it’s also special enough to wear on formal occasions. And when it comes to formality, Mimi thinks diamonds are the perfect choice. “Diamond jewelry has always been the finishing touch for all life’s special moments, from the red carpet to royal weddings,” she says.
Grace Lee designs minimalist jewelry for modern women to wear in their daily lives. Based in Los Angeles, that effortless, California vibe is imbued in her pieces. Just take her delicate Dot collection, which, featuring petite diamonds on slim chains and bands, is perfect for wear at yoga class or on the beach. For more impact, her Linear collection features gold and diamond-set gold bars with marquise and pear cut diamonds set in a seemingly random pattern and at abstract angles. It’s a thoroughly modern way to wear diamonds.
Today, sustainability and featuring exclusively ethically sourced stones is of paramount importance to nearly all jewelry designers, but Grace Lee takes it a step further by using recycled gold in her jewelry, along with natural diamonds that adhere to the Kimberley Process. “All of the diamonds we use in our collections are natural diamonds,” she says. “Each natural diamond has its own history from within the earth and then becomes a part of the wearer’s personal history. Our hope is to create classic pieces that can be passed on for generations to come.”