Lola Fenhirst, established in 2015 by Lola Oladunjoye, offers a carefully crafted collection of gold jewelry that is free of the compulsion to follow trends. At the heart of the brand is sustainability; the wearable pieces are made from recycled metals and ethically sourced stones.
It’s hard to believe that Lola didn’t always harbor the desire to become a jeweler. As a kid growing up in London, she wanted to be a Transport for London bus conductor but ended up spending 18 years practicing intellectual property law in Silicon Valley, California. “I resigned from my position in 2015 and immersed myself in a creative lifestyle—that of an artist.” She dedicated herself to developing her brand, while keeping herself busy with custom commissions.
Lola had also always dreamed of living in Paris and made the move to the city in early 2017. She had it all figured out at this point—or so she imagined. “I thought it would fall into place, step-by-step. It absolutely does not work that way,” adds Lola, with a chuckle. “It was a hard journey.”
Lola’s “square gig” as a part-time intellectual property rights consultant, continues to feed her “creative gig”: designing jewelry. “Anything that you do as an artist has an element of precarity to it and if your endeavor is fine jewelry, then, it is exponentially precarious,” Lola notes.
For her design vocabulary, Lola applies her metalworking skills forged with cultural nuances and subtle embellishments. Drawing on European architecture and her West African Yoruba heritage, Lola channels her aesthetic into strong forms for relatively understated pieces; her artisanal works are a mélange of “tradition and modernity, identity and anonymity, strength and fragility.”
Gorgeous architecture and rich decorative arts inspire Lola, as do the iron works in fortresses, grills and gates. Her fascination further extends to textile, texture, history and mythology, as evidenced in the mood board she put together for the De Beers Group’s Ten/Ten initiative in which independent designers create affordable commitment rings using ethically sourced diamonds. “I knew the project was huge; I knew it was going to be a game changer. It came completely out of the blue during the pandemic and I was beyond delighted.”
Lola’s commitment ring is inspired by bead, her signature motif and a traditional symbol of royalty in Africa. The rounded beads are a recurring element seen in her earlier works such as Sybil, embellished in gold filaments; and Beaded, a collection comprising stackable bands. The 18 karat rose gold diamond ring is bezel-set with a round diamond. The band is adorned with a series of graduating spherical beads that unite at the central stone. The design is a metaphor for the union of opposites; it mirrors co-existence and two worlds coming together. “Just as two people have their own diverse paths, yet culminate at a point (the diamond),” she explains. “The round diamonds are a symbol of unbroken unity,” adds Lola. “And the shining white gem represents love.”
The Nigerian designer is thrilled to be able to “shine a light on Botswana and its economic liberation” through the De Beers partnership. “The Ten/Ten group is a little community and we’ve all agreed that we are going to Botswana next year. What could be more fun than that?” says Lola.
Lola Oladunjoye’s commitment ring in partnership with De Beers for the Ten/Ten project will be sold exclusively on Blue Nile in January 2021.