Once upon a time, fine jewelry designer Julez Bryant DeCosta, founder of Julez Bryant, was a VP at a video game company who hardly ever wore jewelry, let alone considered it a viable career path.
Near the end of that career, a close friend passed away from cancer, leaving DeCosta a bracelet with a charm on it. “I took the little charm off and made it into a necklace,” DeCosta recalls of her first foray into design. “And I ended up at a bead store. I never thought I would ever make jewelry…But it became this little underground thing I did as a hobby.”
Roughly 15 years later, it’s a thriving business. The brand is currently stocked in around 25 boutiques—many within driving distance of DeCosta’s Carlsbad, Calif., home and studio. The designer’s known for her “daily wear” gold-and-gemstone jewelry that highlights beautifully texturized gold as much as it does the diamonds that artfully adorn it.
We caught up with the designer to chat about her line, what inspires her as a designer, and her future plans for the collection:
JCK: How are your operations set up in SoCal?
Julez Bryant DeCosta: Since we’re not really near enough to LA or a major city, I had to create my own workshop. We manufacture everything in our workshop; we even refine the gold. As the company grew, I had to bring on bench jewelers and it all evolved into who we are today. My team is amazing—that’s how I got to this point.
JCK: What do you count among your inspirations as a designer?
DeCosta: I find inspiration in the small details I see in the cities I travel to—the textures in the details of the doorknobs, the rusty windows, the shapes of the windows, the color palettes close-up and from afar. I love how the grace of nature blends with the grit of the city landscape.
JCK: I read that the brand was recently picked up by seminal LA retailer Elyse Walker—how did that collaboration come to be?
DeCosta: We met at the shows in Las Vegas this year and really hit it off…I’m elated about the Elyse Walker collaboration. It’s an honor for me to have our brand featured in her stores. She is a strong, amazing business owner that has conviction and values…lifestyle stores understand self-curation and Elyse Walker and her team have earned their clients’ respect by understanding that fine jewelry and fashion are colliding, and it’s powerful. We will be carried in both of her boutiques—they picked up around 60 styles. We have a very connected, deep relationships with our stores. I go to every trunk show and interface with clients. It helps solidify that connection with the brand. E-commerce, yes, it’s very important. But I think those [retailer] relationships are so, so important.
JCK: What else is coming up for the brand?
DeCosta: We don’t have any e-commerce right now, so we’ll be launching a very small, curated, e-commerce program next month. I’m 50 percent jewelry designer and 50 percent entrepreneur; I have a very directional approach to my business, which I think is a little unusual for jewelry people.
JCK: Talking to you, it’s clear you’re very mission-driven, both professionally and personally. What’s your mission with Julez Bryant?
DeCosta: My mission is to make Julez Bryant a megabrand that’s collected for a lifetime, and to empower women and men to self-curate their collection. The world is our oyster—I’d love Julez Bryant to be the pearl people choose.
(Top: Gold-and-diamond styles from Julez Bryant; Images courtesy of Julez Bryant)