Jewelry collection

Vania Leles’ fine jewelry collection celebrates her African heritage – JCK


As the Black in Jewelry Coalition, a group of jewelry designers BIPOC and other US-based initiatives organize themselves to amplify the voices of talent and minority leaders locally and globally, a voice of other side of the pond disrupts the status quo. in European circles. Enter Vania Leles, the creative force behind London-based Vanleles, touted as the very first African jewelry brand founded by a woman. The designer ethically produces jewelry featuring gemstones from African mines that adhere to environmental and human rights protocols. The African regions which directly benefit from its collection are Zambia and Mozambique. “We source our emeralds, tourmalines and rubies locally and are able to promote the origin of our gemstones without restrictions or fear,” explains Leles. “We work with ethical mines that pay fair wages and local taxes. Leles is a graduate gemologist born in Guinea-Bissau and trained in Lisbon and London; she spent a decade working for brands such as De Beers, Graff and Sotheby’s. She is an active sponsor of the Malaika Foundation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose mission is to educate girls so that they can have a positive impact on their own villages, countries and world.

Van Leles enchanted garden earrings
The Enchanted Garden collection is inspired by prints of traditional African fabrics: gardenias, roses, orchids and cherry blossoms expressed in sapphires, rubies, emeralds and diamonds. Rihanna wore the above earrings at a recent event. Jardin Enchanté floral cuff earrings in 18K white gold with sapphires and diamonds, price on request.
Arc de Vanleles Lyla Ring
Lyla’s Bow honors the memory of Lyla Nsouli, the beloved daughter of one of Leles’ close friends. Lyla’s Bow Cocktail Ring in 18k Gold with Diamonds, £ 9,300 ($ 12,225).
Vanleles Nile hoops
With its flowing lines, the Nile collection is an elegant interpretation of the longest river in the world, also called the father of African rivers. Small Nile 18k Gold Hoop Earrings, £ 1,200 ($ 1,580).
Ruby earrings amor Vanleles
Amor is a passionate love letter to Africa crafted in Mozambique ruby ​​and dazzling diamonds, and rendered in sculptural and playful gold heart shapes. Large Amor Ruby Earrings in 18k Rose Gold, £ 23,700 ($ 31,150).

What does Leles think is the biggest problem facing African mining communities today? She quickly cites local corruption and notes that those who benefit from the status quo are unwilling to make meaningful changes that would have a positive impact on mining communities. And how can the jewelry industry play an active role in making things better? “I think representation matters,” Leles says. “These African mines and their workers are not represented in the conversation of the industry, and the beautiful creations that feature their gems are linked to Western brands rather than the true sources.” Leles strives to showcase these African mines and showcase the rich offerings the country produces. “Retailers and designers like me should demand not only gemstones from ethically sourced sources, but also transparency and traceability in their supply chain. It is no longer acceptable to throw away marketing dollars to cover up what is really going on behind the scenes. In fact, it is immoral. Above: Vania Leles, Founder and Creative Director of Vanleles (photo courtesy of Vanleles)

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Amy Elliott

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