At over one hundred years old, New York City’s Central Park Zoo is the city’s first official zoo, and is also linked to a “system of four zoos” managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society. New York is also home to featured jewelry designer Kara Ross.
In 1978, during a family trip to Kenya, Africa, a 13-year old Ross was given the opportunity to select and procure a pair of gorgeous tourmaline gemstones.
It was at this moment she fell in love with precious and semi-precious minerals; and at this time she also created her first piece: a square cut tourmaline set on an 18-karat gold band.
Later on while working in Harper’s Bazaar’s marketing division, the exposure to high fashion baubles “crystallized my drive to be a designer and I soon left to study for my GIA [(Gemological Institute of America] certification."
With her certification in hand, as well as an Art History degree, the Philadelphia native began a short-lived career producing custom jewelry designs. Feeling confined by the often restrictive nature of creating classically styled engagement rings, Ross loved the idea of playing with a broader more explorative design range.
“Most of my customers were usually men who did not want to take risks with the engagement rings they wanted, so I could not be very creative with those designs,” says Ross. “I wanted to expose people to the beauty gemstones possess. A gemstone in its matrix, to me, is beautiful.”
Much like Miriam Salat and David Joseph’s stunning brand Bochic Fine Jewelry, Ross’ aesthetic is an aggressive style that is bold, chunky, organic and inspired by vintage bravura.
Her wide cuff bracelets in particular are reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s daring style, and like the Bochic brand Ross’ collections evoke images of women with strong presence like Joan Crawford or Lauren Bacall. Overall, the design style is relentlessly glamorous, flamboyant, and uniquely classic at the same time.
Ironically, however, Ross’ design philosophy is that of a custom jeweler: she takes pride in giving her customers lots of unique design options—at affordable price points—and only produces small quantities of items ensuring no run-ins with others owning the same design.
“Customers enjoy original work, that is important,” says Ross. “I have no rules about who I design for. The pieces are made to luxuriate in and the level of detail and richness that goes into a $4,000 piece will go into a $200 piece.”
Ross’ collections highlight beautiful facets of beautiful gemstones in an array of gemstone pendants, bracelets, and gemstone earrings. Her ring designs are extraordinary pieces highlighting gorgeous stones in lovely abstract styles.
One of her cocktail rings is an exquisite rose quartz carved into the shape of a ring; a small strip of 18-karat gold, peppered lightly with small diamonds, embraces the chunky setting of the ring.
She also creates gorgeous gemstone cuff bracelets that feature like stones in a diamond-cut design pattern, and arranged in a brick stack pattern.
Many pieces reflect her love for art, and architecture in their alternately abstract and clean lines; it is quite simply stunning jewelry.
“I want to see people get true pleasure out of my jewelry. It is so much more than money to me.”
Photo 1 (top right): Cuff Bracelet in Rock Crystal
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat Gold Birdcage Pendant Necklace
Photo 3 (bottom left): Rose Quartz Ring in 18-Karat Gold and Diamonds