Q & A with Zenobia Morrow of SevenJune Jewellery – Gem Gossip

Zenobia Morrow | SevenJune Jewelry

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For a lot of fledgling jewellery collectors, determining the place to start could be a bit overwhelming, and that’s the place Zenobia Morrow is available in. A personal jeweler and GIA-certified Graduate Gemologist, Morrow can be the designer behind SevenJune Jewellery, a energetic assortment of daring gold staples and traditional silhouettes studded with diamonds. Via her customized designs and jewellery concierge service, Morrow gives her purchasers the chance to lastly see themselves adorned in the way in which they’ve at all times dreamed.

We caught up with Morrow to debate how rap music’s bling aesthetic result in her curiosity concerning the jewellery business, her journey to GIA, and her trail-blazing profession as one of many few Black ladies within the diamond commerce.

headshot by Antoinette Brock, used with permission

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How did your childhood in Atlanta affect your love for jewellery?

Rising up in Atlanta, I might spend lots of time with my mother on the weekends going to varied vintage shops throughout the town. You might at all times discover me on the jewellery counter. Loads of these items are paste or rhinestone, however there was undoubtedly a right away attraction to every thing sparkly and particular.

Though my early introduction to jewellery was on the vintage retailer counter, I used to be a teen within the early ‘2000s. This was the peak of the “Bling Period.” Culturally, we as a individuals have at all times been into adornment, however one thing shifted round that point. This was the period of platinum every thing, iced out every thing, large Jacob & Co. watches, and rappers elevating their jewellery with the assistance of personal jewelers like Lorraine Schwartz. So, I used to be rising up on this tradition, and [saw] the way in which that converged with music and re-defined luxurious in a really younger and really Black metropolis. I questioned: the place have been the individuals who regarded like us within the jewellery business? I believe that knowledgeable me lots in my resolution when it was lastly time to get critical about my diamond training.

You first studied design at Howard College, appropriate?

Sure, I moved to DC and went to Howard and was finding out of their positive arts division—promoting, graphic design. I used to be in AP artwork in highschool; I’ve at all times been a painter and simply at all times had an curiosity within the positive arts.

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Would you say that your artwork was primarily in portray or did you discover another medium?

My art work was primarily portray. On the time I might do lots of artful issues. I might make envelopes and pocketbooks out of laminated journal pages. I might make little zines. I used to be simply at all times creating one thing, and utilizing that creativity to maintain myself occupied.

Do you continue to paint?

I nonetheless paint—I painted all the work in my condominium. Proper now, I’m actually getting again into pictures. I don’t have as a lot time as I used to for it, although.

Do you discover that there are any connections between your artwork—your work, pictures—and the jewellery that you just create?

There’s a hyperlink between my work and my jewellery, and that’s actually simply the aesthetic, as a result of I’m very minimal. I’m minimal in my life, and I’m minimal in my artwork. I like summary expressionism and I believe that form of interprets into the jewellery, as a result of I’m not fussy with my jewellery, in any respect. I prefer to preserve the emphasis on the stones. I don’t do lots of filigree. I don’t do lots of extras; it’s actually concerning the stones and the supplies being the main target.

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How quickly after graduating from Howard did you start your gemological research at GIA?

After Howard, I moved to Dubai for a few months. That was an unbelievable expertise. It actually opened my eyes to a unique degree of luxurious and a unique high quality of life. Additionally they have a good looking jewellery tradition—there’s a gold market that focuses on excessive carat gold. Then in 2008, the financial system crashed and I ended up again dwelling in Atlanta for a number of years earlier than I left to go to the GIA.

What motivated your resolution to review gemology?

My curiosity in gemology got here from at all times having a love of positive jewellery, however not figuring out learn how to enter into a really closed-off, insular world just like the positive jewellery enterprise. Exterior of my very own self-teaching, I didn’t actually know something about stones or diamond grading. I believe my mom had a 50-pointer in her engagement ring, however no person in my household knew something about jewellery. I wished to attempt to determine the diamond enterprise and the jewellery enterprise, and what that meant. The simplest manner for me to try this was to go an precise program and get these credentials, as a result of the credentials converse for you whenever you don’t have connections within the business—which I didn’t.

What was your favourite half about your research at GIA?

The entire course of was only a actually nice time. It’s a graduate program, so everybody there needs to be there and is targeted on the work. I studied jewellery design and hand rendering, in order that introduced in a few of my portray background. I did the total Graduate Gemologist program, which begins with diamonds, and then you definitely learn to determine coloured stones. The coloured stone a part of it was actually enjoyable, as a result of there’s such quite a lot of coloured stones that I had by no means even heard of earlier than. And other than my research, I met so many fantastic individuals at GIA—associates within the enterprise that I nonetheless must at the present time.

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It sounds such as you didn’t have the connections earlier than you determined to go to GIA, however this system itself offered these connections.

I undoubtedly I had a lateral community of relationships popping out of GIA. And that was actually vital as a result of all of us have been capable of assist one another.

What was your first job popping out of GIA?

I went straight into the diamond business. I used to be actually targeted not on the jewellery portion of the business, however straight diamond shopping for, diamond promoting. That’s the place I wished to be.  There have been no Black those who I may determine within the business doing that form of work. That form of place was very a lot closed off to us. For girls within the business, they form of push you into jewellery shopping for, or they push you into design. These are the sorts of belongings you usually see ladies doing.  However you don’t see lots of feminine diamond patrons—particularly Black, feminine diamond patrons. In order that’s the place I wished to be. I interviewed with a diamond home in New York known as Nader Kash Worldwide. He simply had very nice items, and he was targeted on fancy shapes. I got here in and bought the job principally working his operations. On the time it was such a small firm; he had simply gone out on his personal, and he was younger as nicely. I used to be there for eight years, actually constructing the organizational basis of his enterprise. All of us simply grew collectively. I employed and educated his workers. A few of the individuals I employed didn’t even know learn how to use a loupe once they first got here on board, and now they’re working the diamond manufacturing! It was lots of team-building, and l simply discovered a lot concerning the unfastened diamond commerce.

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When did you launch SevenJune?

SevenJune got here a little bit later. As I bought deeper into the business, I wished to have one thing that was for myself, as a little bit facet mission. I had associates who have been getting engaged or wished recommendation about shopping for jewellery normally. I made a decision to place collectively a little bit web site that I may promote by way of. From there it blossomed into its personal factor. Now everyone seems to be buying on-line, so I’ve been capable of make a reputation for myself. However it actually simply began with individuals asking me for various issues as a result of they knew I labored within the business, they knew me, they usually knew I used to be an individual they might belief.

It’s been since 2018 that I began actually focusing alone enterprise. Whereas I used to be nonetheless at Nader, I used to be doing this on the facet, however I knew finally that it was one thing I wished to have as my very own factor.

What’s your hottest piece, and why do you suppose it’s been so profitable?

I began the enterprise with hoops. I had a ton of gold hoops on the positioning in several sizes, they usually have been my greatest vendor simply because that’s what I had. However I might say earrings normally are at all times an enormous vendor as a result of, whereas they could be a self-purchase, you may as well purchase earrings as a present for another person. It’s form of arduous to purchase a hoop or a bracelet on-line—they may not match. Earrings at all times match. And the pattern now’s a number of ear piercings, so individuals at all times want earrings.

SevenJune gives a concierge service, which can embody help curating a jewellery assortment. What do you think about earlier than serving to a shopper choose items for his or her assortment?

It is a actually attention-grabbing a part of what I do, the jewellery concierge and the jewellery styling. I’ve sure purchasers who’ve shopped with me for a number of items, so I do know what they’ve of their assortment and I can actually advise them on what so as to add subsequent. However for individuals who haven’t shopped with me and simply need that help, I’ll do a name or an e mail. I’ll ask them to ship me photographs of any positive jewellery they’ve. As soon as I see what they’ve, I’m capable of suppose creatively about other ways they’ll put on what they already personal—perhaps you will have an 18-inch chain that you just by no means put on, however you need an anklet; I can try this for you. Or I can provide items so as to add to your assortment that may give the chain a unique look. It’s nearly having the ability to provide items that work with somebody’s way of life.

For people who find themselves beginning straight from scratch, that’s a very cool alternative as a result of I get to ask them about their model icons. How do you wish to really feel in your jewellery? I ask questions that may give me a way of their way of life and who they wish to be. A lot of what we mission to the world is costuming. What do you wish to appear like? Whose model do you actually love? It might be somebody like a Rihanna, who does a ton of layering. Or it could be someone like Tracee Ellis Ross, who focuses on massive assertion items, however would possibly solely put on one or two issues on the identical time. It might be somebody actually traditional like Meghan Markle, the place every thing is white diamonds, white gold. It simply actually is determined by every particular person, how they wish to really feel, and what they wish to mission.

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I like what you mentioned about how lots of what we put on and what we mission to the world is costuming. I’ve by no means actually considered it in that manner, however it’s true.

It’s! You allow your own home, and also you step out into the world, and also you’re projecting the way you wish to be handled, the way you wish to be seen. That could be a little bit completely different from who you might be at dwelling. It’s form of like an armor that we placed on.

It makes me marvel: what do you want to mission to the world with the jewellery you put on on daily basis?

My factor is: I’m simply making an attempt to have my look collectively [laughs]. I’m additionally an individual who lives in my jewellery. I want items which can be sturdy. I like a chunky chain. My life may be very go-go-go, and I want jewellery that I don’t must take off on a regular basis. I want items that coordinate so I look nicely put-together. Whenever you’re working actually arduous, you’ll be able to look and feel a bit frazzled. So I want items which can be straightforward to put on and look easy.

Have you ever skilled any adjustments in your corporation because the pandemic started?

Undoubtedly. Final summer time was very busy, really. I believe with individuals not having the ability to journey, they’d a little bit bit extra expendable earnings. And regardless that you weren’t going out, you perhaps wished one thing that made you are feeling higher about being at dwelling, or made you are feeling a little bit extra dressy in your sweatpants.

I additionally had a pleasant push primarily based on the renewed curiosity in shopping for Black. That actually helped my enterprise, having mainstream bloggers and publications trying to suggest Black jewelers and placing my identify on the market.

That really leads proper into my subsequent query, which was whether or not you’d observed any elevated assist. So has that assist remained constant?

It’s form of arduous to inform. Enterprise has been good, however I don’t know for positive if that’s due to the pandemic, or due to the Black Lives Matter motion. Every part was occurring on the identical time. That renewed curiosity is at all times good, though I might say my main buyer is from my group. My group has been supporting me since I began. That’s actually the main target of my enterprise.

I recognize that.

That doesn’t change, proper? I’m making jewellery for us, and I’m making an attempt to assist us dwell the life that we wish. I need us to have heirlooms for our households. Something outdoors of that’s nice, and I’m tremendous blissful for it. However my group has at all times supported me.

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Do you will have any recommendation for anybody who could also be eager about getting into the positive jewellery business?

My recommendation would simply be to analysis and attempt to construct that lateral group of individuals inside the business. Issa Rae is the one that I first heard say this; she mentioned we at all times search for mentors who’re making it within the enterprise, and who’re the place we wish to be. However we neglect about our friends. Lateral relationships are actually what’s going that will help you and what’s going to be vital to you. I couldn’t do what I’m doing now with out my associates within the business. We have been all making an attempt to make one thing occur for ourselves on the identical time, so we have been capable of educate one another what we knew, and assist one another, and that’s simply as vital as having a mentor.

Are you engaged on something new?

I believe this yr I really wish to convey extra of my very own concepts to life in terms of designing. Presently, the design side of my enterprise is just about relegated to bridal, however I wish to give attention to a few of my very own concepts in different design areas.

You’ll be able to observe contributing author Keisha –> @goldisneverplain
You’ll be able to observe Zenobia – @SevenJuneJewelry

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