How Aura by Jewel Alchemizes Whimsical Creations With Intention


Aura by Jewel

Born from the expansive mind of designer Jewel Williams, Aura by Jewel is an exercise in creative self-rediscovery, generously packaged as an homage to Black women. In 2019, Williams was reconsidering how she conceptualized herself within stillness. The former biology student had always harnessed a deep creative power and wanted to explore new ways to harness her gifts. With the throes of the pandemic still underway, she found herself with an abundance of time and even more emotion to wade through. So, in an attempt to channel her energy into something tangible, she took to the process of molding and transferred her familiarity with organic matter into a meditation on space, color, and ultimately sculpting. After experimenting with different materials, she eventually found her way to polymer clay, which today is the source material of her mixed-media sculptures living in the form of wearable art.

“I’ve always been a statement piece person,” Williams tells “I wanted to make something that I could wear to recall the space I was in when I constructed the piece, and reflect on the transference energy to feel to release to transfer into energy into something that I could see every day.” Every Aura by Jewel piece is made by Williams herself, by hand. The process is in many ways a form of therapy, offering her the space to channel visceral care into a deliberately slow artistic praxis. The art is her way of journeying with her audience, requiring a certain intimacy to craft her deeply intentional accessories.

Polymer’s tactical flexibility allows Williams to explore constantly expanding ranges of motion in her designs, hence the “whimsical” theme for which they take their name. A varied range of colors accents the earrings’ undulating base and make them a striking addition to any look. With comparisons to resin and multimodal sculptural works of artists like Gaetano Pesce, the pieces have steadily attracted clients in the editorial and runway spaces as well as private buyers. Most recently, the Whimsical earrings adorned the ears of a similarly esoteric artist—Kelela. The stirringly emotive songstress wore custom Aura by Jewel pieces, styled by Mario Horne, in promotional imagery for her forthcoming RAVE:N The Remixes album which was released earlier this month. In her celebratory caption, Jewel thanked the artist for aligning with her invitation to feel, calling her “a true translator of emotion.” It is befitting that the independent, deeply intentional label aligns with a project symbolizing rebirth, a renewing, a release.

Each Whimsical custom earring is expertly handcrafted to order, resulting in slight variations in color and hue, though consistent in general structure. The ordering process involves a dialogue with the artist, as intentional as the crafting itself. “I initially said it was really important that if I was going to share pieces with other people and being for folks that there was an understanding of what this was and who it served.” And who she intends to serve, Williams makes very clear, Black women. “I set out to create the pillars of what is now Aura by Jewel. So it’s basically about affirming the humanity of Black women, moving us to rest and to the awareness that we too can feel and experience the full range of emotion.” Jewel cites how the Strong Black Woman stereotype and general societal projection have robbed Black women of opportunities to outwardly express deep feelings without misinterpretation. By her admission, Jewel feels deeply, and especially after witnessing the fruits of her self-expression, she intends to continuously use her art to invite women like herself to freely feel what they have been forced to govern and suppress.

This practice of feeling and exploring the unknown is reflected in the brand’s growth. She is a one-woman team operating from a jazz-scored personal studio in Brooklyn, New York where she has optimized focus and relaxation. “Jazz is very much a part of my process,” she says. “To me, it is the language for feelings that I can’t convey with words. This is a form of music that carries a lot of spontaneity in the sound. It’s very innovative, and it’s not the same every time you hear it.” The continuity of the artistic process allows Williams to find throughlines between the genre and her work. The worlds not only align but are reliant on each other, representing the symbiotic relationship between art practitioners and consumers or listeners. Her pieces, not unlike jazz, are birthed from a process of intention, manifested into work that is as personal as it is edgy, political, and timeless.

Meet Aura By Jewel A Whimsical, Brooklyn-based Earrings Line
Courtesy of Aura by Jewel

In the last year, the brand has gained increased visibility as more and more fashion insiders—from content creators to fellow designers, and stylists—have boosted the brand in their work. The brand is growing, and Jewel does everything herself. In addition to creating the earrings, Jewel also manages all promotions, partnerships, and marketing. So far, it has been a natural progression, and steady growth has allowed her to thoughtfully consider the forms she’d like to see Aura by Jewel operate down the line. Like everything else, this answer starts with self-reflection. How am I feeling? What do I want for this next form of rebirth? At the core, it’s important to her that the work remains reflective of who she is, a consideration that can complicate the question of bringing in more hands. She is certainly receptive to the idea of partners, especially for the operational side of the business, and that process will require an abundance of trust. More conceptually, though, Jewel Williams is looking to the art world, exploring curatorial partnerships that allow her to exhibit in museums and galleries. These types of projects signal a move towards even more intimacy, allowing more thoughtful reflection about the feeling behind the work.

“I just want to invite more conversations around what it looks like to be someone that exists and feels deeply. I know that’s very vulnerable and I would love to see it, most importantly around Black women.” This next phase is about removing layers, shedding the traditional modems of artistic practice in the context of the industry, and instead ushering in a personalized exchange between the artist and the wearer. As a craftswoman who draws her art from a source of tenderness, Jewel Williams is prioritizing the preservation of conditions that allowed for the output and clarity that facilitated this journey in the first place. She is creating and feeling deeply, and she is inviting every person who enters the Aura by Jewel orbit to do the same.


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