Designers / Industry

‘Brilliant & Black’ Designer Gina Love On Why This Exhibit Is So Important


Starting Sept. 22, the second iteration of the highly acclaimed exhibition Brilliant & Black will go on display at Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries in London, returning with a new theme and a larger roster of Black jewelry designers who will display more than 70 jewelry pieces during the event.

This year, curator and jewelry writer Melanie Grant repeated her work with Sotheby’s to organize the exhibit under the 2022 theme, Brilliant & Black: The Age of Enlightenment. Each of the 25 participating designers created at least one new piece that focuses on that idea of enlightenment, which Grant defined as a time of growth, individualism, and intellectual reason.

Brilliant & Black is Grant’s response not only to social and cultural upheaval related to movements like Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd, but it’s also designed to honor the skill, imagination, and craftsmanship of Black jewelry designers from the post–World War II era to today.

Auvere lotus heart necklace
Auvere designer Gina Love created three new pieces for the 2022 Brilliant & Black exhibition, including this lotus heart necklace ($47,360), which is made from 20k gold and features 4.59 carats of diamonds (photo courtesy of Auvere). 

The exhibit also seeks to acknowledge Black talent, highlight experimentation in jewelry, and explore a new era of creativity—achieved in part by bringing in eight new designers for this year’s event.

Among the new exhibitors for 2022 is Gina Love, the cofounder and designer of Auvere, who immigrated to the United States from Jamaica, worked as a corporate real estate lawyer, and became a jewelry designer partly to introduce 22k and 24k gold jewelry to consumers, Love says.

Love says she was impressed with the 2021 Brilliant & Black exhibition, which had the theme of A Jewellery Renaissance. She follows Sotheby’s and many of the jewelers who were chosen for that first exhibition on Instagram, and she made meeting Grant and becoming part of this event a goal, she says.

Auvere gold apex ring
The Auvere mega gold apex ring ($15,790) is made of 24k gold and is inspired by the shapes of unopened lotus flowers and mountain peaks (photo courtesy of Auvere).

“I first learned about Melanie when I bought her book, Coveted. I also knew that she was the catalyst behind the Brilliant & Black show—it was her idea. I told my publicist, Samantha Perriello, that I wanted to meet Melanie and the ever-tenacious Samantha made it happen,” Love says.

When Love was selected to participate in the 2022 Brilliant & Black exhibit, she says the pressure was on and it never let up.

“I was excited and nervous at the same time,” Love says. “The deadlines for creation and approval were quite tight, and I was in the middle of a huge photo shoot for Auvere at the time. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to be creative on tap. I have to be in the zone. But I wanted to be a part of this so much that I made it work.”

Auvere always sought to be a high jewelry brand, Love says, but she also knew the business had to grow and be profitable. Taking a minute to slow down to think more about her creativity and what it means to be a Black designer because of being part of the Brilliant & Black exhibit proved a turning point in a way, Love says.

Auvere diamond arch chandelier earrings
Love says Auvere’s diamond arch earrings ($31,580) are handcrafted in 20k gold with 15 trillion-cut diamonds totaling 5.86 carats and round pavé-set diamonds totaling 0.89 carats. These earrings are Auvere’s ode to its hometown of New York City and the Chrysler Building in particular (photo courtesy of Auvere). 

“This exhibition gave me an opportunity to focus on making three pieces of one-of-a-kind jewelry, which I may not have done for a couple of years,” Love says. “I loved the process, and now I plan to launch at least one piece of high jewelry starting in 2023.”

Also as important is the sense of community such an exhibition creates, Love adds.

“This exhibition allows me to meet live so many of the jewelers I only know from Instagram,” Love says. “We are creatives with a passion for what we do and a need to be acknowledged and seen—like most artists in the world.”

The exhibit will include all of its 25 participating artists through Oct. 2 and until the end of October as an edited version, Sotheby’s said in a statement. All of the pieces on exhibit are available for purchase either in person or via the Sotheby’s Buy Now marketplace, it said.

The full list of participating artists in Brilliant & Black: The Age of Enlightenment: Disa Allsopp, Latoya Boyd, Shola Branson, Ndidi Ekubia, Gina Love, Pascale Marthine Tayou via Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery, Roxanne Rajcommar-Hadden, Sewit Sium, Melanie Eddy, Lola Fenhirst, Harwell Godfrey, Sheryl Jones, Vania Leles, Angie Marei, Satta Matturi, Johnny Nelson, Castro NYC, Jariet Oloyé, Jacqueline Rabun, Catherine Sarr, Maggi Simpkins, Karen Smith, Ron Anderson and David Ress, Lorraine West, and Thelma West.

Terry Castro of Castro NYC died in July and Sotheby’s is exhibiting his work courtesy of his family.

Top: Brilliant & Black features pieces by 25 of the world’s leading Black jewelry designers, including custom-made jewels and signature designs that will be on exhibit from Sept. 22 through Oct. 2 at Sotheby’s London. From left: Jariet Oloyé ring, Angie Marei ring, Roxanne Rajcoomar-Hadden earrings (photo courtesy of Sotheby’s). 

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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