Designers / Industry

Khiry’s Jameel Mohammed on Natural Diamonds, His Brand, and the Future


Looking back to look forward: That is the way fine jewelry designer and multimedia artist Jameel Mohammed thinks about both his personal brand Khiry as well as the completion of his tenure as one of the first Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative (EDDI) inaugural group members.

Mohammed is one of the six original members of EDDI, a partnership between the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) and designer Lorraine Schwartz. The group as a whole was hugely successful—their first diamond collection excelled at its Moda Operandi trunk show, got an exclusive spot at Greenwich St. Jewelers, and received recognition at the 2022 Gem Awards during Schwartz’s acceptance speech for her Jewelry Style award.

Individually, Mohammed has received numerous accolades from media celebrating his work, articles asking for his commentary on equity and inclusion in the jewelry industry, a nomination for American Emerging Designer of the Year Award at the 2021 CFDA Fashion Awards, and a 2021 member of the “30 Under 30 in Art and Style” for Forbes magazine.

Khiry ring
Jameel Mohammed says his spiked ring is a meditation on the role communities play in protecting the things they value. Spike network ring in 18k gold coated with black rhodium with 2.26 cts. t.w. diamonds ($12,000). 

While this first EDDI class has graduated—its tenure ended in April—and the new group comes in, Mohammed says the experience will have a lasting impact on him personally as an artist. It also will continue to inform how he hopes his work will impact future generations.

“This experience has made me more aware of the leverage that I wield as an artist in shaping the experiences of future generations of artists and creatives,” Mohammed says. “Because we came in as the first class, we were able to provide a ton of feedback to NDC to develop the program while also participating and benefiting from the program. This was an enduring example of the ways that creative art can allow you to make change in society.”

Mohammed joined EDDI with Khiry, an Afrofuturist luxury brand he founded in 2016. Khiry is his middle name and means “health and fortune.” Mohammed is a longtime dancer, and his jewelry career started when he created a necklace while he was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Barneys New York fashion director noticed his talent; he had been making his own art on shoes and clothing since he was a teen. Mohammed joined Barneys as an intern, learning merchandising and retail buying.

Khiry diamond earrings
With his tiny solo spike hoops in 18k gold with 0.18 ct. t.w. diamonds, Mohammed says he is asking the wearer to think of how they alone affect the world around them ($6,500).

With his own brand, Mohammed seeks to take the conventions of luxury fashion and use it as a lens to examine the value of Black life and culture, he says. He describes his work as polished and sculptural jewelry that embodies the “strength, beauty, power, and romance of the African diaspora.”

EDDI’s purpose was to level the playing field when it comes to both access to and use of natural diamonds in fine jewelry—something Mohammed says helped boost his own work and brand potential.

“I think it’s allowed me to achieve a new level of the brand’s Afrofuturist luxury vision and to know that the pieces that were created in this vision will have an enduring role in the lives of the people that own them, and, perhaps, even in future generations of their families,” Mohammed says. “This kind of cultural authority is what is unique to luxury goods and would not have been possible without natural diamonds.”

Khiry necklace
Mohammed’s Toussaint link chain necklace in 18k gold features 0.66 ct. t.w. diamonds and was inspired by the sword of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture ($11,000).

The pieces he created over the past six years of his brand and through his EDDI association have been informed by his experiences, his dance training, and the Black women in his life, Mohammed says. There is movement, energy, and life to these pieces, and the brand reflects that.

“Some of my most formative experiences as an artist and most significant contributions to my eye as a designer were my experiences training as a dancer in middle and high school,” Mohammed says. “My dance training was incredibly multicultural and had a great emphasis on Black cultural traditions, and now that my work seeks to communicate the beauty and the reality of Black life, I find myself returning to images and aesthetics from dance about form, gesture, and the way that lines can communicate a broad array of ideas and images.

“Those experiences were among the most beautiful and graceful depictions of Black women that I was afforded growing up, and it’s that energy that I seek to bring to the brand’s proposition today,” Mohammed says.

“For me, art has always been a way of processing the world in ways that were intentional and effortful, but also in ways that I couldn’t fully understand as a child and that I probably can’t fully understand now; and yet, there’s some benefit that doing that work has for my nervous system and my feeling of spending my life in pursuit of purpose.”

Top: Jameel Mohammed says his life experiences as well as his reflections on Black culture inform the jewelry he chooses to create (photos courtesy of the Natural Diamond Council).

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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