Sara Benda grew up surrounded by jewelry—diamonds to be exact. Her father made engagement rings and her uncles are colored stone dealers. For a while, Sara pursued art instead. She was working at Christie’s Auction House and was ready for something different: creating her own jewelry line, known as Ouf!
Sara always loved jewelry and began creating pieces for artists. “I was creating pieces either for the artists themselves, or focusing on the jewelry that they already created.” This grew into something more when Sara created a line of fine jewelry for Kenny Scharf, a well-known artist who was involved in the New York City East Village art scene with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kieth Haring. “He made the drawings and I produced the pieces.” She continued, “It was so exciting. But I wanted everyone, people outside of the art space, to wear this art jewelry, and I realized it wasn’t translating to everyone.”
Sara took some time away from art and jewelry to be a mother and raise her kids. She later had an idea of creating her own line and building Ouf! as a single mom. “Ouf” is a French word l’envers (meaning reversed) that comes from the word “fou” which means crazy. “I am a bit of a Francophile,” Sara said. “And I thought it was a fun word that captured myself and the brand,” she said with a smile.
She continued, “Coming from an art background, the jewelry I created was so niche. I wanted to create everyday jewelry. These women are investing their money and buying this jewelry. It’s made to be worn and layered.”
Working with gold and natural diamonds is Sara’s specialty. Her latest collection, La Rebelle (French for rebel), features a line of leopard printed jewelry. In the line, there is a dome ring, heart ring, classic band, and a pendant necklace and dog tag bracelet in the works. She uses white, yellow, brown, and black natural diamonds to get the look to achieve the perfect leopard pattern.
“You don’t often see leopard print in jewelry and there is a special meaning behind it. It’s all about women empowerment,” Sara said. “This collection is really about the women who are drawn to leopards; I think there is something in that too.” Adding, “These women are very passionate, strong and confident. They’re a little rebellious and bold. It’s a bold pattern, and it’s empowering to wear.”
She describes her designs as easy to wear pieces, adding, “Even the leopard print. My designs are simple shapes, but they are updated classics.” Her inspiration comes from fashion. “I just love fashion, clothes and, of course, accessories.” She continued, “I wanted to create pieces that were missing from my own jewelry collection. I wanted to take the classic pieces we already know and love and update them.”
La Rebelle will be available to shop online this spring.