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Black Jewelry Designers Take Center Stage in Sotheby’s New Selling Exhibition

The sale comprises 60 rare and pioneering pieces with prices ranging up to $1 million.

Rashid Johnson Sotheby's

There’s no shortage of talented Black jewelry designers practicing today, and Sotheby’s has pulled together the crème de la crème for its newest sale.

Billed as the first event of its kind, “Brilliant and Black: A Jewelry Renaissance” will showcase the work of 21 venerable Black jewelry designers at the auction house’s New York galleries this September. Curated in partnership with noted jewelry writer and expert Melanie Grant, the exhibition will comprise roughly 60 rare and pioneering pieces with prices ranging from $1,500 to $1 million.

“This show represents a shift in thinking from ‘African inspired’ to Black talent being the inspiration,” Grant said in a statement. “I think we’ll look back at this moment as a game-changer, amplifying the often overlooked and sometimes underappreciated talents and stories of Black jewelry designers.”

Thelma West Rebel Black Ring

Thelma West Rebel Black Ring. Price: $400,000.  Sotheby's

A true tribute to Black artistry, the show will feature custom-made fine jewelry spanning a range of periods and styles. The designers represented include trailblazers Art Smith and Winifred Mason Chenet, along with world-renowned artists Rashid Johnson (pictured above), Thelma West, Harwell Godfrey, Jacqueline Rabun, Johnny Nelson and many more.

The designers were asked to present two or three signature designs. Each piece highlights the artist’s exceptional skill, imagination and craftsmanship. as well as their compelling stories.

Harwell Godfrey Cleopatra’s Vault Pendant

Harwell Godfrey Cleopatra’s Vault Pendant and Snake Foundation Chain. Price: $115,050.  Sotheby's


A clear standout of the collection is Nigerian-born jewelry designer Thelma West’s Rebel Black ring. Priced at $400,000, it’s centered around a sizable 5.01-carat, pear-shaped color D diamond and is undeniably striking. Another eye-catching piece comes courtesy of Californian designer Lauren Harwell Godfrey. It’s a stunning 18-karat, yellow-gold pendant necklace encrusted with emeralds, white diamonds and onyx that’s priced at $115,050. Designer Vania Leles has created yet another showstopper with a pair of earrings covered with diamonds and rubies priced at $108,270.

VANLELES Enchanted Garden Earrings

VANLELES Enchanted Garden Earrings. Price: $108,270.  Sotheby's

“These pieces have a depth of meaning which is emotional and important,” Grant added. “With this exhibition, we hope to introduce these designers to a new audience of enthusiasts and collectors and to dismantle the boundaries that still exist. To essentially help them make their mark in history.”

The collection will be on display at Sotheby’s New York galleries from September 17–26. You can purchase pieces in-person or through Sotheby’s online marketplace Buy Now.

Check out more photos of the pieces on offer below:

The Isis Goddess Pearl Ring by Angie Marei

The Isis Goddess Pearl Ring by Angie Marei. Price: $10,000.  Sotheby's

NOMOLI Totem Mis-Match Earrings

NOMOLI Totem Mis-Match Earrings. Price: $12,873.  Sotheby's

MATEO Pearl Curve Earrings

MATEO Pearl Curve Earrings. Price: $3,875.  Sotheby's

Rashid Johnson x LIZWORKS Gold Cuff

Rashid Johnson x LIZWORKS Gold Cuff. Price: $18,500.  Sotheby's

ALMASIKA Universum Bangle

ALMASIKA Universum Bangle. Price: $24,000.  Sotheby's

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