While in New York City recently, I got to meet an artist I’ve admired on Twitter (the source of a lot of interesting and unexpected friendships), Daria de Koning. We met at her studio, a fun and functional space in the Tribeca neighborhood. I love the experience of meeting artists in their workspace, as you get a sense of the background of how and where the jewelry takes shape.
Daria is a rising star in the jewelry design world, a curious alloy of skilled metalsmith, stone collector, talented idea designer, all tempered with a great sense of humor. I laughed a lot. The word “amazeballs” was bandied around. “Some people are hoarders, I collect stones,” she joked affably as she presented her one-of-a-kind jewelry creations at the conference table in her studio.
She presented her collections, distinguished by brilliant gemstones in particularly arresting combinations, all set in lustrous 18kt gold. As she explains it, 18kt is her medium. Even though she has been approached by some collectors who want to own her designs at a more affordable level, she hasn’t yet switched to a different metal or alloy. 18kt gold, with its malleability and lustre, is still her muse.
Daria got her start as a designer and metalsmith working with a New York City designer. She began on her own by designing a custom engagement ring for a friend. Figuring that she was on to something, she launched her own collection in 2005. She still works with private clients in her studio, with about half of her business in custom engagement rings, and about half in her regular collections.
A jewelry bench occupies one part of her studio, her torches and tools about. Daria makes a significant portion of her designs, leaving a few components to skilled artisans also in NYC. This gives her ultimate artistic license and control over the quality that leaves the studio.
Her production pieces were lovely, with some fresh takes on gemstone and diamond jewelry. Her one-of-a-kinds were the real star of the show, however. From a 4-inch lovebird brooch, to a gold agate piece, to beloved jellyfish earrings, her heart is clearly in the creation of very special bespoke jewelry. I was struck by the fact that an individual stone or stones would speak to her, with a particular vision, and she would honor that initial idea–even if the vision is not necessarily a “commercial” idea.
Looking through her collections, I absolutely loved her black tourmaline series; the stones were a rough, tumbled matte finish, with glinting, flashing bits as they rotated in the designs. Her mirror cut smoky citrines are cut specifically to her specifications to be faceted on both sides in an intriguing hexagonal shape. Their finished settings are designed to be worn forward or back, one side set with cognac diamonds, the other polished metal, for two distinctly different looks. There is a theme of flexibility in a number of her designs, with earring drops that detach from the tops. If you are investing in her designs, Daria wants them to be as versatile as possible.
You can see Daria in action in this video here. Visit her website www.dariadekoning.com to see more of her lovely designs, or visit her Facebook page here. But definitely keep an eye on Daria and her gems: her star is rising.