Sometimes the crooked paths in life bear the most fruit. For Kevia Jeffrey-West, an unexpected sideline bore Kevia, a collection of one-of-a-kind statement fine jewelry pieces rooted in her travels. (Be sure to see below for a giveaway of one of her fab necklaces.)
A creative type since childhood, Jeffrey-West was always strangely attracted to building things, whether woodwork, tile mosaics or collages.
“I fancied myself a collector of beautiful things, whether I made them myself or scouted them out,” she declared. “In spite of my creative leanings, my career path has not been straight and narrow.”
Studying in Zimbabwe, she began to collect loose stones, sketch designs, and find local jewelers to craft her creations. The hobby soon blossomed into a passion – and an extensive personal collection of jewelry. Although her heart lay in jewelry making, she had no plans to enter the field until a local boutique, struck by one of her necklaces, asked her to make pieces for their store. Three scant months later, her jewelry was in 20 luxury boutiques. Looking back, she realizes, “Designing is definitely my calling.”
“I initially resisted becoming a designer because I had spent most of my energy advancing a career in research,” Jeffrey-West explained. “Designing seemed like a risky career move.”
However, what started as a fun hobby quickly became a way to get some cash. Spending more time designing and less and less on her research, she decided to grow her business full time. It paid off: Her company took off and now she is blissful in her chosen profession. She officially launched in 2005, naming her company after her first name, which means “beautiful child.” Today, an impressive 400 stores carry her line.
Her pieces are classic, easy looks that combine Old World opulence and understated, raw beauty. Jeffrey-West tries to walk the delicate tightrope of fine quality and affordability. As pocketbooks get slimmer, she wants her jewelry to be within reach. Customers can have the statement piece and wear precious and semi-precious stones set in 22K gold vermeil, 18K gold and sterling silver, all without enduring the hefty price tag.
“I approach designing and cooking similarly: I prefer to make things from scratch,” the designer said. “By prioritizing the sourcing of raw materials rather than buying components from manufacturers, I have been able to price my jewelry competitively. I want women to be able to collect my pieces without breaking the bank.”
Kevia jewelry has the power to transform depending on the wearer, her personal style and mood that day.
“The best thing about my collection is that every customer interprets each piece in her own unique way and compliments a woman’s individual style,” Jeffrey-West said. “I have feminine, delicate pieces that can be worn anywhere, from work to the ballroom, and architectural pieces that can make a statement over a T-shirt or a little black dress. How you wear Kevia jewelry is completely up to you.”
The designer is incredibly prolific, developing five themed collections each year. With such passion for her work, designing just comes easy.
Her inspiration is eclectic, but all the lines are rooted in an experience, whether harvesting honey on a friend’s farm or perusing her favorite museum in Tuscany. After establishing the concept, Jeffrey-West designs the pieces based on each theme.
“Each of the collections tell a story both in the text we write for each collection and in the way the items can be merchandised together,” she explained.
Every chance she gets, she loves to trot the globe visiting museums and cathedrals, and soaking up what she can of local jewelry techniques.
“I am fascinated by ancient Egyptian and Etruscan jewelry,” Jeffrey-West maintained. “You really get the sense that ancient gold jewelry was rare, precious, and revered. While I respect the advances we have made in modern jewelry fabrication, my preference is handmade work both because it feels strongly tied to the earliest jewelry making techniques, and each piece is slightly different and thus one of kind.”
While incredibly creative in general, jewelry has always held particular appeal for Jeffrey-West. “As women, we build our confidence in our strength, our talent, and yes, also in our beauty. The world is filled with beautiful things. Jewelry is both enduring and portable,” she said.
In a sea of mass-created goods, her jewelry stands out. Each piece is carefully handcrafted by artisans and then meticulously checked for quality.
Her love of loves is rings, particularly the cocktail variety. Her must-have piece is a statement ring with 22K gold vermeil and high gloss stones perched on an earthy ebony wood base. When she wants to add some sparkle to an outfit, she slips on three stacking rings punched with diamonds.
Perhaps she is getting better with age or perhaps she is easily enchanted, but Jeffrey-West declares, “Each season I think the newest collection is the best I have designed to date. I fall in love with new collections over and over again. I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to the design process.”
Jeffrey-West’s latest direction is to develop a line of fine jewelry using precious stones and metals. Her line continues to evolve and spin into new forms. We can’t wait to see what she will cook up next.
Check her pieces out at shop.kevia.biz.
GIVEAWAY: Blush Necklace
One lucky winner will receive this Kevia Blush Necklace ($175 value). Here’s how to enter:
We will pick our favorite answer, and the winner will be notified via Facebook in seven days.