Supermodel Lana Ogilvie’s Metamorphosis to Jeweler
From modeling the jewels to making them herself, Ogilvie’s career is an artist’s dream.By Grant Mobley |
Many of you will recognize the name, Lana Ogilvie, founder of the jewelry brand, Sabre. A Canadian-born supermodel who has walked the runway for legends like Karl Lagerfeld and Issey Miyake, and starred in campaigns for Ralph Lauren, Saks, Gap, Bergdorf Goodman and more, Ogilvie was also the first black model with a multi-year CoverGirl deal, and also played on-air host for Fashion Television. However, it was never been about clothing or cosmetics for Ogilvie; it was about art. Art in many forms was always what drove her. Over the years, her art has been expressed through painting, etching, photography, fashion and more. However, not long ago, she stumbled into another form of art that is her most intimate of all: fine jewelry.
Ogilvie left her hometown of Toronto at 18 to move to New York after being ‘discovered’ in her high school fashion show a year earlier. She worked for the famous Ford Models and even lived in Eileen Ford’s house alongside other renowned models like Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell. Looking back, she says the first few years were a real struggle, barely making enough to pay to live. However, after a few years of perseverance, her modeling career started to take off.
Before long, she was on the cover of Vogue and Elle and even featured in the legendary Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1994. However, her modeling career was never supposed to be permanent; it was a way to ‘get out’ as she puts it, considering that ever since she was 12 years old, all she ever wanted to do was be an artist. In high school, she studied with the Art Gallery of Ontario for three years, working in many mediums. After high school, Ogilvie briefly attended art school majoring in drawing. While working with legends like Azzedine Alaïa and John Galliano, she began to love the art behind fashion, and her modeling career began to satisfy some of her artistic needs.
As fine jewelry often goes hand in hand with fashion, Ogilvie often found herself wearing incredible jewelry. She recalls always being drawn to large sculptural pieces of jewelry as they fit her artistic aesthetic. Even still, it wasn’t until the late ’90s when a random event turned her on to the idea of making jewelry herself. A friend of Ogilvie’s gifted her a colorful beaded necklace of semi-precious gems from her shop in London. Unfortunately, the necklace broke. Ogilvie’s artistic side took over as she decided to figure out how to fix the necklace herself. She bought a book on beading and some tools and began to teach herself. She quickly developed a knack for the craft and started making things for herself and her friends as gifts. It was a hobby that again started to feed her artistic side. She began to think, “What if I could make fine jewelry?”
Around 2009, Ogilvie decided to take her hobby to the next level and enrolled in classes at New York’s Studio Jewelers, a respected jewelry trade school where you can learn the dying art of handcrafting fine jewelry—precisely what Ogilvie was looking for. All this time, she didn’t think of becoming a jeweler to sell jewelry; working with metal and gems was another art form she wanted to learn and express herself through.
After studying the art of metalsmithing, gem setting, wax carving and the many other disciplines that go into being a jeweler, Ogilvie mostly made jewelry for herself. It wasn’t until 2015 that she realized people wanted to buy her one-of-a-kind pieces and started her business, Sabre Jewelry. After gaining some traction exhibiting at the Designers & Agents show in New York, she started taking her new jewelry business more and more seriously. What sets Sabre Jewelry apart is that every piece is a one-of-a-kind creation made by Ogilvie. Each piece is her art; as she says, “it’s the most intimate art of all because it’s on your body, and you carry it with you.”
With a thirst for more and more jewelry and jewelry design knowledge, Ogilvie enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT) Jewelry Design degree program in 2020. In this program, she finally got to learn more about natural diamonds. The more she learned, the more she was fascinated and wanted to work with them. She recalls looking at rough diamonds under magnification and being captivated.
Shortly after, she heard about the Emerging Designer Diamond Initiative with the Natural Diamond Council and designer Lorraine Schwartz. If accepted, the EDDI program would help her be able to work more and more with natural diamonds, a prospect that seemed out of reach at the time. Ogilvie decided to apply for the program and was accepted into the second cohort in 2021.
A year later, Ogilvie developed her first natural diamond jewelry collection featuring multiple one-of-a-kind designs she carved by hand. Each piece is a wearable work of art in her destined medium.