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Keisha Noel - photo Shawn Brooks

KZ Noel celebrates 10 years!

Keisha Noel - photo Shawn Brooks
Keisha Noel – photo Shawn Brooks

Keisha Noel, the owner and founder of jewelry line KZ Noel, always had a love of jewelry, thanks to her mother. Her mother, a jewelry maker, took her to auctions and antique stores, and Noel watched her craft baubles from her finds.

But she didn’t think about a career in jewelry until a chance occurrence in a Shanghai pearl market where she was tagging along with her husband on a business trip in 2011. “It was just barrels of pearls,” she says. “They let me design my own pieces,” she says. “I also found an antique store and purchased antique jade, and the pearl market vendors strung it with the pearls for me.”

When she went back to the market for the pieces a few days later, some women who were in town from London asked her about them. Noel began designing pieces as a way to pass the time and gave the jewelry to the women when she departed. On the trip home, her husband asked what she was going to do with the additional necklaces she had made to bring back to the U.S.. “I said I’d give them to my mom and my friends. But he said I should start a line.” The entire flight home, Noel worked on her first collection.

Fast forward and now her business is celebrating 10 years, reaching customers in boutiques all over the country and in department stores such as Saks and Neiman Marcus. Noel loves to see customers sporting her jewelry at soccer games and galas alike. She wants her clients to wear her pieces every day in ways that feel authentic to them, not just on special occasions.

Noel produces two collections a year based on inspiration, such as architecture and nature, she finds during her travels. She often incorporates artifacts into the designs. A recent collection featured World War I and II French and American medals. Her pieces are also studded with semiprecious and precious stones, such as diamonds, sapphires, pearls, rubies and quartz.

She has two new collections launching this month: Pinned and The Sun and Rain Collection. Pinned focuses on unisex pieces featuring lapel pins that morph into pendants offering versatility to the wearer, whether man or woman. “While women are wearing more lapel pins, men are also starting to adorn themselves. For so long, they’ve truly been ignored in the jewelry industry,” she says.

The Sun and Rain Collection features primarily earrings and pendant necklaces, and is inspired by cloud formations Noel saw while visiting Miami and Harbor Island, The Bahamas. “It consists of pavé diamond clouds with sunbursts or raindrops,” she says.

The working mom of twin 10-year olds— she started the business when they were infants—reflects on her 10-year anniversary. “I’m still learning and loving the process of designing, sourcing and manufacturing,” she says. “Most small businesses don’t make it past the 4-year mark. I’m super thankful.”


STORY: Lauren Finney Harden

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