Designers / Fashion / Industry

Aethera Founders Model How to Turn Fashion Expertise Into Fine Jewelry


The three male models who founded fine jewelry brand Aethera say they are using their experiences in fashion to create gender-free designs and try to change people’s approach to wearing jewelry.

Aethera, which just introduced its first collection, was founded by John VanBeber, Zachary Mirabelli, and Lane Hitt—all Ford models. Hitt and VanBeber met at a Ford party, and they met Mirabelli at the gym.

Because the men have worn so much jewelry and understand how clothing and accessories look on the body, they want Aethera pieces to feel different than other jewelry on the market, they say.

“To us, clasps are super outdated and redundant. We use magnet clasps, which are super easy to put on. For our bracelets, we use a seamless link, so the clasp appears hidden,” says VanBeber. “It’s simple and functional, but we also felt it was future-forward. These were ways we could make an impact.”

Aethera also provides more size options, with 6½- and 8-inch bracelet lengths. Wearers can turn two of the 8-inch bracelets into a choker or necklace, allowing for multiple uses, VanBeber says.

Aethera jewelry
John VanBeber models a variety of Aethera jewelry, including the diamond signet ring ($275), Burst coin bracelet ($420), and Rainbow Flower necklace ($450).

The brand’s inaugural line of 18 pieces is in sterling silver, and the trio say they will be adding more jewelry, including gold and platinum. They expect to introduce sunglasses later this year, and say future advertising is already planned, as they are the storytellers behind the campaigns, given their fashion industry experience.

“We don’t want to be another boring company,” Hitt says. “I can’t wait to see people’s reactions to Aethera. This is only the beginning.”

Aethera’s current offerings range in price from $110 for a pair of Burst stud earrings to $1,800 for the Diamond Evolution necklace studded with lab-grown diamonds. The company also does custom jewelry and hopes to expand into one-of-a-kind pieces that celebrities would wear at red-carpet events.

Long-term, the men want to turn Aethera into a lifestyle brand, using the knowledge they’ve gained through modeling, working with fashion designers, and their own unique points of view to come up with products that they’d like to use and that express their creativity.

Each founder brings his own style and personality to the brand. VanBeber, who’s modeled for such fashion labels as Thom Browne, says that in his spare time he enjoys transforming vintage textiles and garments into new clothing. Hitt has been a model for 11 years and been in ads for Steve Madden; he recently started acting, with a role on the TV drama Evil. Mirabelli, also an actor, has done campaigns with clothing and lifestyle brand Raffi and appeared on the first season of the reality show Love Island.

Aethera necklace
Lane Hitt models Aethera’s Cross necklace ($375), which features a magnet clasp.

Aethera debuted in late May in New York City, where it is based, with a scavenger-hunt-style jewelry release. One piece per week has been hidden under an Aethera logo sticker somewhere in Manhattan, with tips on how to find the jewels on Aethera’s social media.

The brand’s name has a double meaning. Aether, an alternate spelling for ether (as in ethereal), refers to the celestial realm, and many of Aethera’s designs highlight the sun and stars. Hitt says that the feminine aeth (a suffix in Welsh) represents the intuitive and the meaning of being, while era relates to the active and characterization of doing, and that together they are meant to bring harmony and fulfillment.

“When you balance the energies in yourself, you will feel the power to wear what you never wore before,” Mirabelli says. “When you’re confident in yourself, you can pull anything off.”

Top: Aethera founders Zachary Mirabelli, John VanBeber, and Lane Hitt say they want their new brand to inspire people to explore genderless jewelry. (Photos courtesy of Aethera)

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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