A Jewelry Designer Who Captures the History of the Universe With Gems

Ope Omojola’s brilliant creations are about “engaging my intellect.”

on the left is a portrait of the jewelry designer, a woman of color wearing sitting with her arms crossed over her knees looking at camera and on the right are a pair of hoop and post earrings made of striated red stone
Portrait: Cameron Phan. Earrings: Courtesy of the designer

Left: Designer Ope Omojola. Right: Aura hoops in landscape jasper and glass.

When jewelry designer Ope Omojola stares at stone, she sees the whole universe unfold. “You’re looking at millions of years of growth, development, and change,” she says. Octave Jewelry, the Brooklyn-based brand Omojola started in 2017, specializes in framing these moments in time in precious metals.

sketch of angular candlesticks in gold with stone accents
A design for candlesticks.
Courtesy of the designer
sketch of an oval candle sconce with green stone accents
A preparatory sketch for a candle sconce.
Courtesy of the designer

A student of anthropology who made her way into fashion, Omojola properly pivoted to jewelry only after taking a metalsmithing class at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Her primary materials, aside from precious and semiprecious stones, are sterling silver and, recently, glass. “Figuring out new methods of combining these materials has been a fun way to expand my practice,” she says. “I’m thinking of how a color will look on skin and how certain movements will capture the light.”

pair of post earrings in green stone
Collage earrings in bowenite and jasper.
Courtesy of the designer

Inspiration comes from far and wide: Ellsworth Kelly drawings and Etel Adnan paintings; René Lalique’s creations and Neolithic stone tools. Her research process, however, is not only about images, but touches on philosophy, science, and more. “I’ve really gotten back into engaging my intellect,” she says. “It’s made my creative process that much richer, because objects without context are meaningless.”

Jewelry isn’t the end of the story, though. Omojola is currently producing her first collection of goods for the home: candelabras and sconces made from brass, jasper, and marble. While the scale is different, the pieces are still built from the Octave vocabulary: “It’s not a whole new language; it’s a new dialect.”

april 2022 cover  elle decor

This story originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE

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