Samantha Knight masters the art of mixing old and new
A former interior designer, Samantha Knight loves to mix it up—an aesthetic she carried over from her prior career, choosing larger furniture and decorative objects for the home. “There is something static and too proper, almost cold, about designing a house or a jewelry collection with pieces that represent only one time period,” she explains. “When you add a piece or two that is unexpected or juxtapose sleek and modern with something very ornate—it reflects a personal feeling that has more character. Perfection in both mediums seems forced or unnatural,” she adds.
When I first met Los Angeles-based Knight, she was in New York City and we went jewelry hunting together. She was wearing one of her charm necklaces with a combination of her own designs and symbolic antique pieces she had found and I immediately understood her individual sensibilities, which spilled over into her recently launched jewelry collection. “You have to love what you are doing, and as a woman, you are instinctively designing for yourself, whether it is from scratch or you are combining new creations with pieces from the past. It’s been approximately one year since I started the jewelry line and I’ve noticed that the more me and what I wear that goes into it, the more women will relate, respond and buy.”
When asked how and why she switched gears, Knight explains, “I always wore certain pieces every day —a tennis bracelet, my vintage Rolex watch, my Cartier Love bracelet and then I would add in some antique bracelets and a necklace with different lucky and symbolic charms. Eventually I began to learn more about the design process as well as what style of antique pieces I liked best and became a novice collector. Concurrently, I realized that I was no longer happy in my career but I felt such a rush whenever I discovered new pieces and styles from different periods in time.”
Knight started buying antique and vintage pieces to sell, and she could hardly keep up with the demand. “It wasn’t easy to replenish as quickly as I needed to in the beginning since I didn’t know that the jewelry would sell so well and I didn’t have as many sources as I do now,” she explains. She also had ideas for pieces that she could not find or that were familiar and recognizable, such as the ubiquitous tennis bracelet and the enduring signet ring. “These are the types of pieces that are heirloom, handed down and that I continually see women who are my age or older wearing mixed in with other pieces. I thought that would be the foundation of my collection—to rejuvenate these old favorites into styles all generations, but particularly those who never owned these pieces, would want to wear today.” Knight’s signet ring offers a chic balance of a chunky yet pared-down contemporary feel with the swirls and monogrammed letters you would find on an antique piece. She also offers different streamlined styles with block letters in diamond pave.
Her tennis bracelets are more feminine and sleek than those of the past and look particularly current when worn three at a time in different widths and tri-tone metals and mixed with her open pave diamond thin cuffs. She creates simple medallions that can also be engraved and larger versions that are worth their weight in gold. Her entire collection is a mix of original designs, pieces based on details and elements of the Victorian period, authentic antique jewelry and customized pieces that were not being worn in their original condition.
When asked about what she decides to combine—she explains, “I think you need to counterbalance pieces—spare with ornate, linear with more rounded edges, symbolic motifs, accented by diamonds or gemstones. I also love the feel and look of buttery yellow gold for heavier link chains and have started creating my own or building charm necklaces with chains from the Victorian era and modern charms.”
As far as layering and stacking goes—her philosophy is “anything goes as long as you can pull it off. Once you begin to learn your personal style and what works for you—you will feel when you have gone over-the-top. You never want to look like you are wearing your whole jewelry box. Mixing, layering and stacking really is a learn-as-you-go, trial and error way of wearing jewelry. The end result is that you want to combine pieces that become part of your persona.”
At present Samantha works directly with consumer, but that could change at any time. She does many trunk shows throughout the year, two of which are on her website. Check out her website for listings.
In Collaboration with Samantha Knight Fine Jewelry.