Signature Gold Finish and Specialized Cut Stones Make an Impression
Kevia Jeffrey-West launched her line, Kevia Jewelry, in 2005 using her own namesake, which means "beautiful child." Aside from pure 18k gold custom designs, Kevia makes jewelry in three main metals; sterling silver, 18K gold vermeil, and 22K gold vermeil. Her signature metal finish is the matte 22K gold vermeil which took her a year to develop. She says, “My goal has always been to offer fine jewelry quality designs that are affordable, and I think the high karat finish makes the pieces feel more precious than traditional 14K gold.” Kevia is also extremely fascinated by the stone manufacturing process and buys her stones in rough and has them cut to order in house or with a specialized lapidary. Kevia has distinct collections in her line as each collection begins with a key design concept, metalwork technique, or an aesthetic feeling. She designs signature metal textures and stone cuts for each collection. Kevia watches trends but does not follow them as she likes creating collectable pieces that will stand the test of time. Kevia Jewelry makes seasonal adjustments in stone selections as they offer warm colors for fall and vibrant stones for spring.
While studying in Zimbabwe on an undergraduate study abroad program, Kevia found a store selling loose stones. She then collected locally mined and cut stones, sketched designs, and found local jewelers to make her creations. Upon returning two years later to do post baccalaureate research and finish her doctorate to become a university professor, she realized her hobby of creating jewelry was where her heart was. “I am not sure that I would have thought about selling my work if a local boutique hadn’t asked me to make items for their store after they noticed a necklace I was wearing,” Kevia says. She knows that designing is definitely her calling as the universe kept pulling her towards fashion despite her resistance.
Kevia’s work is organic and she often draws inspiration from the natural world and her own garden. Leaves, flowers, and the natural world are common themes for her work as living in the Northwest is a great source of inspiration due to the combination of lush urban gardens and some of the world’s most bio-diverse outdoor spaces. For example, her Pacifica collection centered on wood textured metal inspired by the bark of to local forests while her annual trips to Neskowin inspired a collection featuring cast sea shells set with delicate stones. Her Flora collection started with her fascination with the butterfly bushes she planted for her first house. When those bushes overflowed with bright clusters of flowers six years later, Kevia paid homage to the prolific bush by designing clusters of leaves into the shape of a butterfly and setting cushion shaped stones with metal butterfly bush leaves.
Kevia Jewelry launches five theme based collections per year and all begin with an experience, such as harvesting honey on a friend’s farm, a favorite museum while abroad, or a new fascination with a newly found raw material. Once she has a core concept, she designs rings, earring, bracelets, and necklaces around that theme. Each of her collections are meant to tell a story both in the text written for each collection and in the way the items can be worn together. Kevia Jewelry currently has nine collections; Abielle, Artisan, Brocade, Fauna, Flora, Genevieve, Gilt, Octavia, and Rococo. From the Gilt collection, we selected the Gilt Leaf Necklace as an Editor’s Pick for its beautiful simplicity in exhibiting sparkling cubic zirconia stones flush set on a 22k gold vermeil pounded leaf. The gorgeous gold leaf is ¾ inches tall and hangs delicately along the neckline. This is lovely on its own but also works well as a layering piece with other necklaces. We love how perfect it is for everyday wear as a wardrobe favorite.
When Kevia first began, her primary focus was creating interesting and beautiful pieces. Once she realized this would become her career, her focus expanded into building a brand for herself. She successfully established her brand by attending the right tradeshows, developing a public relations campaign, and securing high profile stores early on. Similar to cooking, Kevia preferred making things form scratch, and thus began sourcing raw materials rather than manufactured ones. She has studied and designed all over the world and is most fascinated by ancient Egyptian and Etruscan jewelry since ancient gold jewelry was rare, precious and revered back then. While she respects the advances society has made in modern jewelry fabrication, her prefers handmade work because it feels strongly tied to the earliest jewelry making techniques and because each piece is slightly different and thus one of kind. When traveling or living abroad, Kevia loves visiting museums, cathedrals, and learning about local jewelry techniques and aesthetic preferences.
We selected the Rococo Crystal Necklace from the Rococo collection as an Editor’s Pick. This necklace is elegant and romantic with its rose cut crystal framed by a 22k gold vermeil lace bezel. The thickness of the crystal set in gold adds dimension to the piece and hangs beautifully around the neck. The rose cut crystal is refined and opulent as its open back setting lets the light sine through to enhance the stone’s sparkle. All her stones are cut to order and her personal favorite is the rose cut, which was originally used for diamonds, because the cut is brilliant, delicate, and transforms the roughest stones into luminous gemstones. From the same collection, we also love her Rococo Citrine Earrings because they dangle ever so sweetly from the lobes. Featuring two brilliant rose cut citrines set in 22k gold vermeil lace bezel, like the necklace. The earrings hang 1 ½ inches long and deliver double elegance as a larger oval rose cut citrine dangles from a small round cut citrine. The rich honey yellow of the citrine stones are ever so more enhanced by the gorgeous luster of its 22k gold lace border. These are also available in crystal and blue topaz, to match your Rococo Necklace of choice.
Kevia has two goals when designing – to focus on items that are either knockout pieces for special occasions or signature pieces for everyday wear. “I want women to find a piece that they love to the point that it is a part of their daily look or it is something they put on that makes them feel excited and special,” Kevia says. As for personal preference, her everyday pieces include a variety of bangles as she loves mixing textures and metal finishes. “I can roll out of bed, grab a handful of bangles, slide into a black t-shirt and jeans and feel effortlessly glamorous with each move on my wrist,” she shares. Kevia also has a love affair with rings, and tends to wear a set of three 18k gold rings, each set with eight diamonds. For a first time Kevia Jewelry buyer, she recommends her cocktail rings for knockout pieces because the juxtaposition of 22k gold vermeil with high glass stones or earthy ebony wood is stunning. As for signature everyday pieces, she recommends her multi-color stacking rings, simple earrings, or a stack of bangles can be worn every day.
For Kevia, one of the advantages of living in Portland is how eco-friendly it is. Being green and caring for the environment is important to her as she worked in the environmental field for eight years before becoming a designer. Their factories filter runoff water, recycle metal, and have a streamlined packaging system that reduces shipping, storage, and labeling materials. Most of her production is done in India because she wanted to keep her handmade jewelry affordable. “It was really important that my business dealings followed the principles of fair trade in the areas of pricing, worker conditions, and manufacturing practices. Each year I try to tackle a new way to green the business,” she shares. Her Woodland collection features reclaimed ebony wood that is finished with lint seed oil. Kevia Jewelry is sold in boutiques and large stores nationwide but is also available online at their site, kevia.biz, for international customers and those from smaller towns.