“I don’t know any woman who doesn’t like diamonds,” jewelry designer Simone Smith , who also happens to be married to iconic hip hop artist LL Cool J, tells The Zing Report. And now the designer’s eponymous jewelry brand, which specializes in chic hoop earrings, has dropped a collection poised to make diamond jewels more affordable for more jewelry lovers.
With business partner Ronny Seliktar of Select Jewelers, Smith has harnessed a proprietary fabrication method that combines natural diamonds with diamond dust; the patented process involves cutting the cone of the diamond and layering in crystallized diamond dust and enamel, which acts as a light table that captures light then reflects it back out. The result is a much bigger diamond look for a much more reasonable price.
The duo tested the new technology in 2011 on a few styles, but this is the first time they’re offering a complete collection—it’s comprised of six styles of various sizes plated in 18k gold or platinum. “I’m a big hoop girl,” Smith adds. “Now my hoops can be bigger and more affordable. Putting diamonds in these earrings and having them cost under $500 versus $5,000 makes ladies happy.”
She also advises those same ladies to not be afraid of wearing the larger sizes in a variety of settings. “When we did trunk shows at Neiman Marcus, women would say they couldn’t wear 60 millimeter hoops to the office. To that, I said, ‘Who made up that rule? You have to be a rule breaker and risk taker!” Her lightweight hoops also come with the designer’s signature bridge hook to keep them safely on the ear. The new collection is available exclusively on simoneismith.com.
Smith’s brand, which celebrates its 12th anniversary this year, donates continually to the American Cancer Association. Smith was diagnosed with stage III chondrosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, in 2011. After surgery, she discovered that the lollipop tattoo on her leg now looked like it had a bite taken out of it, which eventually inspired her to create her signature Lollipop pendant, aptly called A Sweet Touch of Hope. It was her first design, and her collection grew from there.
Smith also partners with childhood friend (and living legend) Mary J. Blige on a collection called Sister Love, which Blige happily shows off on her show Power Book II: Ghost. Smith is also debuting a new men’s series, Majesty, next month. LL Cool J and the couple’s 33-year-old son, Najee Laurent Todd Eugene Smith, both modeled for the campaign. “I was so happy they wanted to model for me—I am blessed,” she says. The line features thick bracelets, chunky-and-long chains, and several new pendant styles. Central to Smith’s business success has been that fact that her brand offers product in a wide range of prices—her pieces have been carried in Neiman Marcus and Wal-Mart.
For Mother’s Day, just around the corner, she designed a collection called The Book of Love that centers on a single form: three-intersecting simulated diamond-lined hearts, graduating in size, that bend upwards like stacked pages of a book. It’s not meant to symbolize Smith’s own life and career, but the fluttering heart does feel apropos. Smith’s been writing her own story for a while now, and it’s filled with love.