Words by Mikelah Rose, Photos by Harol Baez
Created by Kristy Collado, who hails from the Dominican Republic, Chéjo Jewelry (pronounced cheh-ho) produces unique unisex accessories that are reminiscent of tribal warrior pieces. Chéjo’s handmade pieces are edgy enough for the ladies and masculine enough for the guys. I discovered Chéjo Jewelry through the JAMPACT Charity fashion show. The line’s earthy tones and heavy details in the extravagant pieces looked unique yet seemed wearable. Chéjo utilizes an intriguing compliment of mixed metals and up-cycled leather materials, and its unique geometric shapes echo through each piece, creating a visual statement of extreme individuality and style. Collado took her career in jewelry making from designing pieces for friends to designing a detailed piece for Faye Ann Lyons for Trinidad Carnival 2011. We caught up with the talented young designer for a Q&A about her line and her future plans.
LargeUp: Tell me a little about your Caribbean background. Where are you based now?
Kristy Collado: I am from the Dominican Republic. I am currently based in New York City.
LU: Tell me about your start as a jewelry designer
KC: I have always had a love for art and fashion, which was the driving force for me getting into designing. I graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BA in Fine Arts. Upon graduation I began an internship with Brian Crumley, a fashion jewelry designer and Kristin Hanson, a precious metal jewelry designer, where I received my formal metal smith training.
LU: When did you decide you wanted to take your jewelry company to the next level?
KC: I began making jewelry for myself and, as my passion for jewelry making grew and growing interest from other people, I then decided to establish Chéjo.
LU: Where do you draw inspiration for your designs and how often do you create?
KC: My Dominican culture has had a major influence on my work because it is so rich in art and traditions. I also draw inspiration from life, human emotions, history, nature, spiritual and cultural beliefs. Some of my designs are a work in progress others are not.
LU: What do you think is most distinct about your designs?
KC: What makes Chéjo designs most distinct are the forms and the use of various materials.
LU: Tell me about your collaboration with Faye-Ann Lyons, how did that come about?
KC: I was contacted by [Trinidadian designer] Meiling about Fay Ann’s Soca Monarch project. It was a great experience. My main focus was to design and create a piece that has a presence and is durable for a stage performance.
LU: What can we expect next from Chéjo Jewelry?
KC: I am currently working on a website and an Etsy Shop for Chéjo, where individuals will be able to purchase merchandise.
To see more from Chéjo Jewelry, visit their Facebook page.