Designers / Gold / Industry

Jewels Born of Persian Myths, Traditional Techniques, and Transgender Culture


When Darius Khonsary (pictured below) was 5 years old, her grandmother gifted her a solid gold pendant from her native Iran that featured elements of Persian numerology.

“She said to me, ‘This pendant is your magic square—it has all your numbers on it related to the moment you were born,’” Khonsary tells JCK. “She told me it was my protection. What it instilled in me is that magic is the fabric that makes up our universe, and jewelry—specifically metals and gemstones—are the talismans that help us to connect to our own inner power.”

Darius Khonsary

Khonsary, now 26, credits the pendant—and the ancient Persian heritage that it symbolized—with introducing her to “the magical quality of jewelry at a very young age.”

In 2020, she channeled that magic into Darius Jewels, her debut collection of gold jewelry, a beguiling assortment of earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets steeped in the myths of her Persian ancestry as well as imagery borrowed from ancient cultures—as in her Dendera scorpion studs and crab ring, inspired by one of the earliest known Zodiacs, depicted in the Osiris chapel in Egypt.

Darius Mini Dendera scorpion studs
Mini Dendera scorpion studs in 18k yellow gold with 0.14 ct. t.w. antique pear-cut diamonds, $3,200

“For as long as I can remember, I have collected imagery and taken notes on things that inspired me,” Khonsary says. “The inspirations could have been things I saw in museums or books. So much information has been lost from the ancient world, and I’m fascinated by these rare surviving fragments.

“Most of all, I’m drawn to symbols whose meaning has been obscured or hidden by the passage of time,” she adds. “I believe these symbols have their own kind of primordial power, and by working on them, I’m inviting them into the present.”

Take the Sisters necklace, the first piece that Khonsary designed. Featuring linked figures inspired by a 4,000-year-old Akkadian cylinder seal, the necklace, like the rest of her collection, is handmade by a master jeweler in Los Angeles using a traditional Iranian technique that involves casting the jewels in 18k gold, then gilding them in a wash of 24k to lend the pieces a warm, satin finish.

Darius Sisters necklace
Sisters necklace in 18k yellow gold

“It took a while to create my own language,” Khonsary says. “I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I saw something I’d designed forged in metal. It’s the highest honor I could ever ask for.”

The collection starts at just under $1,000 (for a pair of small hoops) and ranges up to $33,000 (for an antique Burmese double ruby ring). “I’m very attracted to antique stones,” says Khonsary, adding that all the diamonds are antique old-mine cut stones that were designed “to sparkle in candlelight.”

Darius double ruby ring
Double ruby ring in 18k yellow gold with 1.25 cts. t.w. bezel-set antique Burmese rubies, $33,000

Khonsary, a trans woman, has infused each piece with a very deliberate homage to femininity. For the Sisters necklace, for example, she redrew the figures from the Akkadian seal in feminine forms and reinterpreted the symbols they carry (a moon, a sun, and a vessel overflowing with water) as totems of archetypal feminine energy and magic.

“Magic and transformation have always been a part of the trans experience,” she explains. “Transness is both enduring and eternal. Many cultures regarded trans individuals as sacred, thanks to their ability to tap into the vastness of cosmic energies.”

Top: Dendera diamond crab ring in 18k yellow gold with 2.05 cts. t.w. antique old-mine cut diamonds, $16,866

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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