Ancient mythical creatures carved in gold and linked together to form a necklace from another world; mismatched emerald studs that look endearing and a smiling Pegasus with old cut diamonds for the eyes, strung on hand forged chains designed to look like paper links from a school project from childhood.
It’s the work of Los Angeles-based Darius Khonsary, who founded his Darius Jewels line a year ago as a tangible way to connect with elements of the ancient world, as well as explore his Persian heritage and love. traditional crafts.
The collection, produced by master jewelers in Los Angeles, quickly generates buzz for its thoughtful charm and its qualities that are both relaxed and opulent. The pieces are set with recycled antique diamonds and Burmese rubies, and follow traditional Iranian jewelry-making processes – carved from 18k gold and dipped in 24k gold for a richer undertone and a warm satin finish.
While the designs are rooted in ancient pre-Persian peoples including Akkadia, Assyrian and Sumeria, they are also layered in modern shades – one could also imagine them at a post-COVID-19 rave, a nightclub of the 1970s as well as in a former hammam. “I activate the old energies and bring them into the future. I try to present something futuristic and modern in pieces that are essentially old to present a compression of time. The pieces themselves, I think, exist out of time, ”Khonsary said.
The designer slowly built her collection over two and a half years, with money saved over a decade working in an LA jewelry store. “I was just doing one piece at a time because it’s so expensive [to start a jewelry line]. Once the collection was finished last year, it was a good time to release it in November, especially with everything going on, ”she said.
One of Khonsary’s totem pole designs, his Sisters necklace, is a series of related ancient figures that are carved from gold – with shapes taken from an Akkadic cylindrical seal from around 4,000 years ago. It was the first piece designed by Khonsary and it set the tone for the rest of her collection, as well as its connection to her identity as a trans woman.
“I feel that with the Sisters Necklace, it is connected to ancient transgender magic and the transformative state [of that time]. This is something that I have researched a lot – how people transexisted in the ancient world. It’s almost forgotten and when I talk about bringing old images back to the present day, it sounds like something I’m doing too, ”the designer said.
In February, her brand was featured on a runway show with Moda Operandi, where much of her inaugural collection was sold. Her presence, however, is an important benchmark in a world of fine jewelry that is often ruled by white cis-men executives with products that are, more often than not, explicitly gendered. And this is even more particularly true in the price bracket in which Darius Jewels operates, with many of its designs spanning the five-figure range.
The soft-spoken designer is shy to talk about what her arrival in fine jewelry could mean for the industry as a whole. But she has a hunch that it’s the start of a new chapter. “I have the impression that the future is not so cis-oriented. I feel like I know other trans women who are also launching jewelry brands. I think a lot about how the jewelry industry feels very cis-oriented. It is not always a comfortable feeling.
“I don’t understand the idea of jewelry or clothing being gendered – it’s for everyone to benefit,” she added. “Even the idea of unisex jewelry doesn’t make sense to me. Jewelry shouldn’t be labeled, it should just exist and be able to connect to an individual without these conventions.
Khonsary’s first lookbook, with a follow-up to come, features herself draped in Darius Jewels patterns and a sheath dress designed to resemble ancient clothing. For her, representation matters. “I want to see so many people like me wearing the pieces. It’s great to have jewelry on other trans women – it’s something that is really important to me.