Tuesday, May 24, 2011


14-Karat Gold Pendant Necklace
with Purple Jade
Anambra is a tiny city located near Africa’s River Niger.  One of the city’s top attractions is its Omaba festival but the city is also known for its variety of artworks.  Africa is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Monalisa Okojie.

Remember the movie Flashdance?  Jennifer Beal’s character, Alex, worked as a welder by day and an exotic dancer by night.  At the heart of the film is Alex’s dream to gain acceptance to a prestigious dance school in order to become a professional ballet dancer.

I use this as an example to show that the constant, almost nagging creative stirrings of the artistically inclined cannot be quelled but instead are released and pursued. 

Though the scenario behind Okojie’s advent into jewelry design is different, the principle is the same.

Okojie always loved the artistry and beauty of finely crafted jewelry but she pursued a career in law instead.  Though a successful legal counselor, she could not silence the longing to design jewelry and took a leap of faith into the world of fashion and celebrity.

Upon graduating from the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.) in 2008 Okojie was ready to launch her brand Nehita.  Drawing on influences that include “African art, European couture and American “fly”, Okojie builds designs that are classically chic and sophisticated.
18-Karat Gold Diamond and Amethyst Earrings
Working with 18-karat yellow, white and rose gold she builds delicate, ethereal pieces accented with soft-colored gemstones that include topaz, citrine, ruby and conflict free diamonds.  

The sleek, fluid outlines of her diamond bangle bracelets are so clear-cut it evokes images of a very refined woman with stunning good looks, impeccable taste in clothing and not a hair out of place.

The quiet delicacy of her diamond and gemstone jewelry is not limited to Okojie’s collection for women but also her men’s jewelry collection.  Admittedly, there is a more defined, bolder aesthetic to the men’s chain link bracelets and chain necklaces but it is more elegant than hard edged.

The 18-karat white and rose gold dog tag necklaces and diamond cross necklaces form both the men’s and women’s collections are understated yet dramatic.  I like the way Okojie cross-references the white and rose gold of the dog tag necklaces placing the rose gold in subtle outlines against the white gold.  The ball chain suspending them provides a crisp and somewhat gritty militaristic look.
18-Karat White, Yellow and Rose Gold
Diamond Bangle Bracelets

Since its inception, the Los Angeles-based Nehita brand has garnered a celebrity following that includes Alan Cumming, Megan Good, Brandy, Natalie Cole and Whitney Houston.

Okojie donates a portion of the brand’s sale proceeds to the International Center of Education and Youth Development in California.
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