Launched in 2016 by Jameel Mohammed, jewellery brand KHIRY has become synonymous with sleek, ultra-modern silhouettes and counts the likes of Michelle Obama, Kylie Jenner, Megan Thee Stallion and Yara Shahidi among loyal fans. Using jewellery as a medium to uplift his community, Jameel highlights the beauty, art, heritage and culture of the African diaspora in the form of refined, artistic and modern designs.
For his first foray into fine jewellery under Net-A-Porter‘s Vanguard programme—an initiative that empowers and champions emerging designers—Mohammed was mentored by acclaimed jewellery designer Matthew Harris of Mateo. Libby Page, Senior Market Editor at Net-A-Porter recalls: “Matthew Harris of Mateo introduced us to Jameel. We wanted to provide mentorship not just from Net-A-Porter but also with the help of another designer, whereby a more established designer could mentor and advise an emerging talent. We loved what we’d seen from KHIRY’s demi-fine collection and knew from Mateo that Jameel wanted to develop his business further and launch his first fine jewellery collection.”
The Vanguard programme has supported numerous up-and-coming labels including Peter Do, Christopher John Rogers and Minju Kim by providing bespoke mentorship and exposure to help new talents grow their businesses. “We are consistently discovering amazing talent globally and are always keeping an eye on these brands,” shares Page. “The aim of our mentorship is to ensure that the brands are keeping in tune with the market whilst maintaining their signature aesthetic. We provide the brands with a platform where they can showcase and promote their designs, whilst introducing them to the wider industry.”
Each handpicked designer of The Vanguard brings a strong brand story and unique point of view to the table, and Jameel is no exception. On the KHIRY designer, Page says: “Jameel is an extremely talented designer, with his own unique point of view and style. He uses inspiration from many different sources to form a collection that champions both diversity and change.” Ahead, Jameel talks his brand ethos and vision, his latest fine jewellery collection, and his dream celebrity-KHIRY collaboration.
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Tell us about KHIRY and KHIRY Fine.
KHIRY Fine started this year after I developed a partnership with Net-A-Porter. I had previously made fine jewelry on a bespoke basis but this was my first scaled commercial offering of fine jewelry. KHIRY is an Afrofuturist luxury brand, and KHIRY Fine is one exploration of a luxury collection that’s deeply rooted in Black culture and tradition.
What is your brand ethos and mission?
We are committed to using luxury as a platform to create a vision of a world that treats Black culture and the people that create it with equity and justice.
What does Afrofuturism mean to you?
Afrofuturism is a process of creating a new world by first fixing it firmly in your imagination and slowly realising it. For me, especially as an artist that designs objects, I think we are instilled with tangible values and beliefs through a myriad of social systems, including those that bring us the objects that we interact with. By beginning to change the objects, I believe we can begin to shape the systems that bring them to us.
How does your education in political science shape or inform your designs?
It makes it very difficult to separate any choice or intention from its political connotations and histories. It makes me especially aware of the impact that I want to make on the future and the ways that my effort in this time can have a real impact on what that future looks like.
Why have you chosen jewellery design as a medium to uplift minority groups and effect change?
Jewellery is a huge historical playing field that is inherently dealing with questions of what is not just valuable but supremely valuable, worthy of protection, worthy of being passed down and linked with a family’s heritage. For me, that is an incredible amount of context to contend with and melding my ideas, which I hope are forward-looking with the history of this craft, is a really fruitful pursuit for me as an artist. At the same time, I’m also looking at what other spaces have a similarly charged history to begin to expand the brand’s reach even further.
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Take us through your jewellery-making process.
Everything starts with a sketch. I’m typically sketching throughout a season as new ideas occur to me, and as a process of reflecting on current events and ideas that I’m introduced to. The collection begins to take shape as I understand how these ideas relate to one another. I begin to 3D model individual pieces to see how they work together to tell a story of the various inspirations that shaped the collection. From there, the pieces are 3D-printed and cast and assembled with all stones and finishings.
How does it feel to be part of Net-a-Porter’s Vanguard program?
It feels good to be supported to be supported and recognised for work that I set out to do a long time ago, and to be given a platform to further extend brand stories into the new category of Fine jewellery.
Tell us about your latest collection created under the mentorship of Mateo’s Matthew Harris.
This collection made possible by our generous material sponsors really made me think of the idea of mentorship and my experiences being mentored as a Black artist in various crafts. One of these formative experiences was with my dance instructor, Homer Bryant of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, who offered instrumental training in what it meant to be a professional artist and to take your craft seriously. He got his start in the 1970s movie The Wiz dancing in the Emerald City sequence, which was a reference that came immediately to mind when I learned that I would have the opportunity to work with emeralds. The pieces that resulted are a mix of new styles and KHIRY classics rendered in 18kt gold, white diamonds, and beautiful Columbian emeralds.
Who is the KHIRY woman/man/person?
I think what I love about this era in fashion is that brands don’t have to have singular client archetypes. What excites me as a designer is the opportunity to bring people together based on common ideas rather than common life characteristics. That being said, our client sees the brands they engage with as an extension of the world that they would like to see. They’re interested in quality, narrative, and timelessness in the things they engage with.
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Tell us about your A-list clientele and supporters. Who would you like to see wearing KHIRY next?
The brand has been super lucky to enjoy support form a wide variety of incredible and iconic people worldwide—people that I grew up admiring and whose journey still inspires me. If I could will any celebrity collaboration into existence it would probably be with Rihanna. Her style is incredible. We met at the Met Gala and it was one of the most incredible moments of my life.
Where do you find inspiration?
I watch a ton of documentaries. I listen to a ton of podcasts and read articles related to a variety of issues. I’m as much inspired by contemporary struggles as by historical, political, and cultural movements.
What are your aspirations and ultimate goal?
Personally, I would love to develop an infrastructure that enables me to sustain an exploratory creative practice, and hopefully one day allows me to pay forward the incredible bounty of love and support that I’ve enjoyed thus far. I would love for the next generation of artists in my position to have an institution that is wholly modelled in their image and is dedicated to seeing them thrive.