Darius, the eponymous fine jewelry line of artist and designer Darius Khonsary, is an exciting new arrival on the fine jewelry scene.
Why so thrilling? The 26-year-old designer’s hand-forged designs defy current trends. You won’t find any limp diamond pave or bland enamel among her soulful styles, all of which are crafted in solid 18k gold then plated in a satin-finish 24k yellow gold. Darius’s designs reference Khonsary’s Ancient Persian ancestry and are meant to affect precious relics unearthed from primeval treasure troves. They’re also very luxurious—roughly half the pieces in the collection are priced above $10,000, and a few diamond and gold necklaces bypass the $30,000 mark. The materials make it luxe, but the masterfully cut designs also possess an intentionally rough-hewn quality.
Perusing Khonsary second-ever collection in person earlier this year, we were especially struck by a cluster of designs featuring a two-dimensional crab and a scorpion, their forms coated in chunky diamonds to create tony pendants, stud earrings, and rings. We were, in short, obsessed. So, we emailed the Los Angeles-based designer, who graciously took us on a deep dive on the twin motifs. —Emili Vesilind
The Zing Report: Hi, Darius! What inspired the designs for the crab and scorpion pieces?
Darius Khonsary: They were inspired by one of earliest known zodiacs, as depicted in a relief on the ceiling of the Osiris Chapel at the Temple of Hathor Temple that [dates to] 30 B.C. The reason why I was drawn to this zodiac is that I love that it was based on the original Babylonian depictions of the cosmos…I saw it in the Louvre Museum years ago. I just thought it beautiful and for sure I had it in my mind these past few years. We are working on a full zodiac collection to be released soon; at the Couture show we will have the whole mini zodiac collection.
Your work is deeply inspired by history—and your jewelry actually looks ancient! Is that intentional?
Yes! I’m trying to keep any of the imagery I use as historically accurate as possible. I think it’s an important part of my work. There’s something about the idea of redrawing history that’s important to me. I look at ancient imagery and redraw it. And we even make the jewelry like they have for centuries, using the lost wax casting method. Everything is handmade and all diamonds are antique old mine-cut diamonds.
So much information has been lost from the ancient world and I’m really fascinated by the rare surviving fragments of things. And I think most of all I’m drawn to the symbols with meanings that have been obscured or hidden by the passage of time. I think the symbols and the way that these things were organically drawn reflect on the wonder that people had, during a time when magic was perceived to be a very real part of the universe. I’m inviting that energy into the present.
The paintings in the Lascaux caves [in France] and others they found that the images people painted, one they were lit by fire, moved and were meant to be dancing. That’s what the diamonds are meant to do in the jewelry.
All your pieces are 18k gold plated in 24k gold. What made you do this?
There are some heirloom gold pieces my mom has from Iran that are 18k plated in 24k and I think [that combination] makes the pieces feel and look more ancient. It also means that they will have a really solid core that will last for thousands of years. We’re seeing 24k gold pieces in museum fall apart because 24k gold is too soft on its own.
I had these earrings that were my mom’s that she gave me in high school. They were gorgeous Ancient Persian-style earrings. And I broke one of them and took it to a jeweler to have him fix it, and he was the one who told me about this process. When we went to fix the earring, it was 18k gold with the 24k satin finish on top of it. It felt like that mix was part of my lineage.
Tell me about why you chose to use antique, old mine-cut diamonds exclusively in these pieces.
We use diamonds from the 1700s to the early 1900s, and from both a visual and emotional standpoint, I prefer the look of these stones. I think our use of reclaimed stones continues to reincorporate the old into the new. It’s a way of honoring the past. I think the diamonds really have a soul and it’s something you can really see and feel. They were cut to sparkle in candlelight, and their sparkle mimics the stars in the sky.