Style Setter: The Jewelry Brief Interviews Kara Ross
Kara Ross is becoming a household name, in fashionable households that is. Owner and designer of the eponymous company, Kara has taken her company from designing custom pieces for private clients to an internationally recognized brand. The bold jewelry and handbag designs are replete with color: gemstones, original design skins and resins. The pieces are designed to be layered, to mix and match, so customers become collectors.
Trained as a Gemologist, Kara’s initial pieces were based on her skills for selecting the finest colored stones and diamonds. This skill transitioned flawlessly in 2007 to a new fashion jewelry line. Kara by Kara Ross was born from a collection made for a fashion show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The gold plated brass jewelry made for the runway was an unexpected smash hit. In the years that followed, Kara’s new line proved to be ahead of its time, economically speaking. Kara is quick to point out that she really enjoys designing this line. The pieces are big, bold and simply fun to wear. Many of the skins she designs for her exclusive handbag collection are also incorporated into her fashion jewelry line.
Kara Ross’s award winning designs can be seen on the red carpet and on elegant women everywhere, including the White House. Last year Kara receive a very special commission to design bangle bracelets using wood from the White House lawn, which served as gifts to visiting heads of state. Kara’s vision and passion are a great combination for any entrepreneur, and are sure produce many fantastic lines to come.
JB: What is the main source of your design inspiration?
KR: I get ideas just by keeping my eyes open. I’m lucky in that I get to travel with work and with my family I am always inspired by the new places, people, customs, clothing, architecture that I see. I feel if you keep your eyes and heart open-there is always something that you are going to take notice of. It could even be a beautiful flower and the unexpected colors that live in it.
JB: You have three spectacular jewelry lines, at three separate price points. Do you create for different customers or do you have a fan base that stretches across all of your lines?
KR: I have three separate lines of jewelry: The Fine Jewelry, the Gemstone Collection and the Kara by Kara Ross “Boutique” line. The scale and production of each line is very different. The Kara by Kara Ross line is much more widely distributed. Retail prices range from $100-300.00. The Gemstone Collection is from $300-$5,000. The Fine Jewelry is too hard to price out with each piece being unique. The lower priced KARA collection is very fashionable and trendy. The Gemstone Collection is designed for those who want something to cherish for years to come.
JB: There is a great emphasis on color in all of your pieces. Explain how color fits into your creative process.
KR: Color is important because it makes a statement, it elevates your mood. I believe there is no wrong color – any color is right in right circumstances. It really is a joy to mix and experiment with different palettes.
JB: Who has had the greatest influence on your life/career?
KR: My parents and family have obviously had the most important impact. My mother used to take us to look at antiques and vintage pieces when I was younger. That started my love of vintage clothing. I actually wore beautiful vintage dress for prom in high school. My father is a surgeon but also a very talented painter. My brothers/sisters and I all have pieces he has done in our homes
In addition, I love architecture and art. I am a fan of Sir Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, David Childs, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava as well as Francis Bacon and Louise Bourgeois. My favorite jewelry designer is Suzanne Belperron. She was a great Parisian jeweler born in 1900s. She was known for her bold use of stones. I love the fact that she was a strong successful woman during a time when women were not a big part of the work force, private business owners or designers. She was a strong, creative, independent thinker.
JB: Your hand bag line is stunning. Do you have plans to expand into other areas of fashion?
KR: I love accessories and designing jewelry and handbags keeps me busy. I am always open to new ideas and collaborations.
JB: What are you working on right now?
KR: We just launched our Bridal Collection and Bespoke Collection Program when you can design your own version of Kara Ross signature handbags. I am very excited about these new developments!