Designers / Gold / Industry

The Pandemic Inspired Designer Karma El Khalil To Set Her Sights On The Moon


At the height of the pandemic, designer Karma El Khalil was marooned in her glass-walled midtown Manhattan high-rise with only the moon to keep her company.

“I couldn’t sleep well during the pandemic, and I had this magnificent view of the moon as it traveled through the sky at night,” El Khalil tells JCK. “I became attached to its journey. At first, things felt very isolating in New York—the moon seemed like the only thing that was alive.

“Later, I started feeling its presence,” she adds. “I was really isolated. I wasn’t seeing anyone at all. And I realized this moon I’d been communicating with was the same moon that everyone communicates with, and that we each have our own relationship with it. The moon made me realize that as isolated as I was, I actually felt the most connected with the entire world. That made me fall in love with the moon and dedicate a collection to it.”

Karma El Khalil aquamarine ring
Aquamarine Diamond Crest ring in 18k yellow gold with 29.63 cts. t.w. diamonds and aquamarine, $21,000

And so, Conversations With the Moon, El Khalil’s bejeweled meditation on pandemic-era isolation and connection, was born.

Karma El Khalil morganite earrings
Morganite Teardrop earrings in 18k rose gold with 16.7 cts. t.w. morganite, $4,000

The collection features 27 one-of-a-kind 18 karat gold jewels, ranging from $2,800 to $21,000, designed to evoke the reflection of moonlight on city buildings and water, as well as pieces meant to conjure the surface of the moon itself. In one set of earrings and ring, El Khalil chose morganite to symbolize the pink moon. In another statement piece, an oversize topaz ring, she had the stone faceted on both the top and bottom and set it in rose gold, to represent the tides.

Karma El Khalil topaz ring
Topaz Diamond Crest ring in 18k rose gold with 4.06 cts. t.w. diamonds and 30.96 cts. t.w.  topaz, $17,000

A number of pieces feature raw gems—including spinel and opal—to reflect the designer’s appreciation for Mother Nature. “I wanted to have the least amount of design, to emphasize the stone,” El Khalil says. “During the pandemic, I realized how much we can learn about our own lives and patterns if we really listen to nature. I wanted to express my love and gratitude, in a more intentional, bold way.”

Karma El Khalil raw opal pendant
Raw opal pendant on 18k gold chain, $2,800

In one trio of rings, El Khalil had aquamarine and morganite cut into triangular forms and designed them to stack together, “kind of like a rock formation,” she says.

The collection, which was manufactured in El Khalil’s factory in Lebanon, features a number of pieces inspired by the reflection of moonlight on water. She set them with apatite, a green gem that she says resembles Paraiba tourmaline. El Khalil also says she “had to include some moonstones,” which she had custom cut with long, linear facets. Blue chalcedony and jade are the moody, romantic gems that round out the collection.

Karma El Khalil moonstone hexagon earrings
Hexagon earrings in 18k white gold with 0.93 ct. t.w. diamonds, iolite, and moonstones, $9,200

“It feels really good to come out of a such a difficult time with a collection,” says El Khalil. “The whole period, as difficult as it was, there was also a lot of beauty and coming together; people really expressed what was in their hearts.”

Top: Dew earrings in 18k white gold with 0.62 ct. t.w. diamonds and 40.22 cts. t.w. apatite, $15,000

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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