By Rebecca Doulton
Kara Ross, the American jewellery designer favoured by high-profile clients such as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Demi Moore, has a knack for juxtaposition and a sharp eye for contrasts. Her fine jewellery is a tapestry of textures and colours, combining unusual materials that might mix wood and rocky lava with precious and semi-precious gemstones. In fact, one of her commissions for the First Lady was to create gifts made from wood from the magnolia tree on the White House lawn for visiting Heads of State.
The Petra fine jewellery collection, named after the impressive archaeological site in southern Jordan, plays with the natural and the man-made. The raw/smooth Split jewels are like travelling back to the origins of time when the Earth was exploding at the seams. On one side of these Kara Ross rings, the gem pushes out of the gold shank in all the raw natural glory of uncut stones, opposite which is set its polished counterpart, separated by a wavy ribbon of pavé diamonds. If you look closely at the Petra Split ring, with raw white quartz and smooth rock crystal, you will notice how the rough side of the gold shank holding the spiky quartz is jagged - just like the irregular shell of the rocks that contain the crystallised minerals.
Large, powerful and eminently tactile, these Kara Ross rings beg to be touched and worn. Colour is also part of Kara’s alchemy, using regal amethyst, mysterious blue opal, watery blue hemimorphite and acid green chrysocolla and uvarovite.
Kara created her first ring as a teenager using an emerald-cut green tourmaline acquired on a family safari trip to Africa, and eventually decided that her natural gift could become a business adventure. A certified GIA gemmologist, Kara’s designs have won distinguished awards, including the 2014 GEM Award for Design from the Jewelry Information Center.
Based in New York with a boutique on Madison Avenue, Kara also makes colourful clutch bags - featured in Sex and the City 2 in one of Miranda’s scenes - and even has an array of tabletop decorations in the form of bejewelled lobsters. Are we witnessing a Martha Stewart of the coloured gemstone world in the making? Time will tell but, in the meantime, let’s enjoy her refreshing and energetic designs.