Growing up in Inglewood, California, jewelry designer Corey Anthony Jones, founder of Gaudy Atelier, fondly remembers trips to his family jeweler with his mother and Aunt. “It was always a delightful and thrilling experience,” he recalls. “They were always so excited to shop. This became a core memory for the designer and ultimately inspired him to create those same emotions for his own clients.
After attending Clark Atlanta University and studying Business Administration with a concentration in supply chain management, Jones went to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to study jewelry design. It was there that he brought his happy memories of visits to the family jeweler to life.
Now, as a member of the NDC’s second class of the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative, Jones has been able to take his designs to the next level, thanks to the mentorship and support of the initiative. Ahead, we spoke with Jones on his first memories of a diamond, his design style and inspiration, his creative process and more.
Only Natural Diamonds: What are some of your earliest jewelry memories?
Corey Anthony Jones: Going to our family Jeweler with my mother and Aunt as a kid around 8 years old. It was always such a delightful/thrilling experience, they were so excited to shop…It made them so happy! As a young kid experiencing that joy created a lasting impression. That joy and all those range of emotions is what I aspire to achieve when a collector buys one of my pieces.
OND: What sparked your interest in designing jewelry?
CAJ: As the years went by, each encounter with my family jeweler “Charlie” sparked my intrigue and he was more than willing to nurture my curiosity. Any question I had, he would answer and also provide guidance, he gave JCK magazine, Modern Jeweler, and other industry magazines which I read front to back at the age of 11 years old. Which led me to discover The Gemological Institute of America.
OND: How would you describe your design style?
CAJ: I would say eccentric to succinctly put it into context. I pull from so many references, pop culture, my childhood, haute couture joaillerie and sneaker culture. I am driven to reinvent the wheel, introducing non-traditional materials that add value to my fine jewelry designs. Expressing a story that modern jewelry aficionados and fashion enthusiasts will resonate with.
OND: What’s the story behind your brand name, Gaudy Atelier?
CAJ: Haha, thanks for asking… So when I was a teenager going with my Mother to our family jeweler she asked me to show her which jewelry pieces I liked… looking through the display case I pointed to each ring, bracelet, necklace and earring that piqued my interest. And her response was, “Ugh, that is so Gaudy”!
OND: Where do you look for inspiration when designing for Gaudy Atelier?
CAJ: Inspiration comes to me in spurts, sometimes I hear lyrics from a song which sparks my creativity and I think about how to conceptualize the phrase into a piece of jewelry. I really like to reference things I see from my travels. I make a real effort to make sure I visit the contemporary art museum in every city I visit. While I am walking down the street there are often times I pull references from architecture, furniture, and fashion. I prefer to walk in new cities to try and get a sense of the vibrancy of the city. Since adolescence I have kept a catalog of magazine articles, toys, books, photos, and random objects that I continue to use as references to this day. I get accused of being a hoarder, what others see me having no use for I see a source of infinite creativity.
OND: How do you balance being a creative with being a business owner?
CAJ: I don’t… haha there isn’t much balance, you naively think so when you first start.. But in reality it’s mostly business. There is a famous quote by Walt Disney “We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.” It resonates the most with me and helps me endure the up and down moments, there is nothing more I want to do in life besides design jewelry.
OND: What’s something people don’t know about jewelry style in Los Angeles?
CAJ: I would say most people like to stand out in LA, and are more willing to try audacious designs. That is not conventional, which is a great thing. It just really depends on which area in LA you are a part of, that would really define the style. Hollywood drives a lot of trends here.
OND: What do natural diamonds add to your pieces?
CAJ: Brilliance!! Using natural diamonds maximizes the radiance when light encounters each stone. My quality standard is VS H+ color when it comes to my diamonds, so my collectors are sure to retain the value that comes from investing in my designs for years to come.
OND: Is there any piece from your collection that you were particularly excited to see brought to life?
CAJ: Yes, of course it would be between “The Life” bracelet and The “Nostalgia” bracelet. “The bracelet was my first design of the Gaudy Atelier collection, my signature piece, it has taken me years and multiple interactions to finalize the design. The “Nostalgia” bracelet is just a cool, youthful, joyful production of work. I love witnessing the expression of clients when they first try it on, that makes all the hard work worth it.
OND: What diamond jewelry pieces do you personally love to wear?
CAJ: It would really depend on what I am doing or going… I love pairing “The Life” bracelet with and outfit I am wearing to a fashion forward event, I always get compliments. For a semi formal event I would wear the “Nostalgia” bracelet. The flash from pave diamonds is an instant conversation starter and I love to allow admires to try it on. When I am rocking more of a relaxed outfit it would be the “Stripes” necklace people often think it’s because I served, in which I reply we all have earned our stripes in the pursuit of our goals in life. Mostly, day to day I don’t wear any jewelry, just too busy running around the LA jewelry district.
OND: Who would you love to see wear a Gaudy Atelier design?
CAJ: Anna Wintour, Tyler the Creator, ASAP Rocky, Rihanna, Lori Hirshleifer