Rhode Island-born jewelry designer Kendra Pariseault, 40, translates sound waves into visual form through gold and gemstones. Examining how sound is a key memory marker of life’s most important moments, her first collection included wavelength rings, high-frequency earrings and diamond-set resonance cuffs, pearls and her favorite pink sapphires. Customers can also request personalized sound wave bracelets based on a sound or spoken expression of their choice. I sit down with her to discuss her eponymous brand.
How did you come to this call? How and when did you become interested in jewelry?
My family has always collected jewelry. From a very young age, I shopped with my grandmother and my mother for fine costumes and jewelry. I loved to accessorize, and even today, I believe that more is more.
Why did you go from working at Calvin Klein and David Yurman to creating your own brand?
I studied textiles as an undergraduate and worked in the fabric sourcing department of Calvin Klein. I love color, so when I saw an opening in Yurman, I jumped on it. It was a lateral move, but I wanted to learn more about the jewelry and gemstone industry. While at Yurman, I took many courses at FIT’s gemology program. My love for colored stones and jewelry grew. From there, I pursued a Masters in Jewelry and Metallurgy at RISD and started my own business. I saw a need for personalized jewelry, especially bridal jewelry, that really looked at the customer holistically. There are so many factors involved in wearing and buying jewelry: lifestyle, budget, etc. I wanted to offer my clients a truly unique experience.
Tell me about your interest in bridal jewelry.
I love every piece of the market. It gives me such joy to work with clients individually to create their engagement rings. The engagement ring process can be so intimate and personal that I consider myself so lucky to continue helping couples create the rings of their dreams.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I love music and for me sounds are a great memory trigger. I grew up in Rhode Island, so the sound of the ocean is something that calms me down and reminds me of the amazing childhood I had. My pieces are inspired by sound waves, and one of my collections is inspired by the sounds of the sea. It’s very whimsical and playful.
Is the fact that you create jewelry inspired by sound and in the form of sound waves unique in the jewelry industry?
I believe him. The shape of sound waves in the jewelry landscape is a language that I created. Incorporating not just the sound, but the memories contained within each wave is such an important foundation for my entire collection.
What is your approach to the materials you use?
Every piece of gold and gemstone used in a Kendra Pariseault design is sustainably sourced and follows all sustainable mining practices. Sustainability is really important right now, and while I’m not necessarily announcing that I work with all responsibly sourced materials, I am. I believe this is the only way forward for all creators. I believe that brands and individuals need to start integrating sustainable practices into their philosophy from the start. Ethical sourcing should never be an afterthought; it can’t be something they think about later.
What new techniques or innovative technologies do you incorporate into your jewelry making?
I’m really obsessed with post-consumer stones, especially post-consumer diamonds. What I love about post-consumer diamonds is that they have been cut by hand. The facets are thick and each has its own unique DNA and character composition. I am so in love with ancient stones. I always find the most beautiful and unique vintage cuts, which I find innovative in themselves. I use a range of vintage cuts in my designs, particularly antique, old European and antique mine cushions. I use traditional goldsmithing techniques. I believe in stable and high quality production. I have been and always will be more than happy to pay more for quality, and I believe my customers feel the same way.
Where are the different craft workshops you work with located?
Their workshops are located in New York. I sell directly to my clients and work with a select group of stylists in New York and Los Angeles.
How do you take a different approach and mentality to jewelry making, away from traditional jewelry?
My mentality is customer first, which means I really listen and guide my clients, rather than push them. I sometimes think I could have been a therapist because I really listen!
Who are some of the celebrities who wear Kendra Pariseault?
Halima Aden, Cami Mendes, Emily Arlook, Tracy Tutor.