Designers / Gold / Industry

Glamorous Old Hollywood Inspires New Aurate x Kerry Washington Collection


For the women behind Aurate, including actor and Aurate investor Kerry Washington, their latest jewelry collection, called Be the Lead, has many meanings—be a trailblazer, take the spotlight, and, perhaps most of all, embrace the idea of being a star in your “one wild and precious life,” as the poet Mary Oliver said.

Washington and Aurate’s third collection, which debuted this week, comes as Washington is thinking about women who inspire her, according to founders Bouchra Ezzahraoui and Sophie Kahn. This includes everyone from the legendary actor and singer Josephine Baker and the many women in Washington’s life who needed to bring some glamour and brilliance back in their lives as the world wrestles with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Aurate x Kerry Lead ring vermeil with white topaz
Aurate x Kerry Be the Lead ring in 14k gold vermeil with white topaz, $250

Thankfully, Kahn says, the process of creating such a collection brought everyone involved a sense of accomplishment and excitement.

“Kerry is an absolute dream to work with, and we’re not just saying that,” Kahn says. “She’s really involved in every aspect of the design and storytelling and truly cares about the jewelry we are offering. We’ve had many phone calls and late-night texts to develop this collection together, but it felt like fun, not work.”

While the inspirations are deeply serious, the collection itself is an homage to early moviemaking, bold women, and classical beauty, Ezzahraoui and Kahn say. Be the Lead is the third collection they have designed with Washington, who became an investor in the female-founded and -led jewelry company in 2020.

Aurate x Kerry ear cuff vermeil with white topaz
Washington modeling Aurate x Kerry 14k gold vermeil and white topaz Be the Lead pieces, including the ear cuff ($150) and the hoop earrings ($160 each, $320 for a pair)

“With this collection we and Kerry wanted to pay homage to the glamour of old Hollywood and the enchanting performances of its leading ladies,” Ezzahraoui says. “We included art deco details, gold finishes, and touches of white topaz to speak to that era and offer our customers something special to wear with confidence throughout the holiday season and beyond.”

The Aurate x Kerry Be the Lead collection features five pieces, all in sustainably sourced, 100% recycled gold vermeil, something that is synonymous with the company, which was founded in 2015. The collection is designed and manufactured in New York.

Having a celebrity who loves jewelry and has a strong point of view makes such a collection possible, Ezzahraoui says.

“Our cocreated designs very much resonate with our customer, since they reflect both style and substance,” Ezzahraoui says. “Yes, the designs are unique and cool and beautiful, but there’s also a real story behind them.”

Aurate x Kerry Lead necklace vermeil with white topaz
Aurate x Kerry Be the Lead necklace in 14k gold vermeil with white topaz, $580

Coming up next for the jewelry brand? Getting back into retail and working closely with clients again, face-to-face, Kahn and Ezzahraoui say.

“We are reopening stores,” Kahn says. “Even though we are online focused, we’ve believed in the power of retail from day one—remember our first one in SoHo? So we’re thrilled to open two new locations. One on Madison Avenue in New York and one on Fillmore Street in San Francisco.”

The Aurate x Kerry collection will continue, Kahn and Ezzahraoui say, and they are looking forward to additional collections.

“In our heart of hearts, we believe in empowering our woman by talking to her, listening to her, and then giving her what she wants, which is the absolute best of the best,” Ezzahraoui says. “It’s what made us quit our day jobs 5-plus years ago and what still drives us today.”

Top: Kerry Washington in Aurate x Kerry Be the Lead jewelry (all photos courtesy of Aurate)

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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