“The stone dictates the look of each piece,” says jewelry designer Tej Kothari, whose family business dates to 1970s India, where his mother, Taru, worked as an antique jewelry dealer. Despite his training in genetic and molecular biology, Kothari followed in Taru’s footsteps. “She told me I could design something, and if it sold, I could keep the money,” he says. Those early pieces sold quickly, closing the doors on a science lab future.
The Bay Area’s diverse landscapes influence Kothari’s designs, but his references to nature are subtle. “Even though we’re sourcing organic and rustic materials, [our] tailored pieces are meticulously crafted to strike a balance between beauty and wearability,” he says. Kothari has rendered baubles out of everything from diamonds to fossilized dinosaur bones, as well as agate (shown here), which he began tinkering with in his Oakland studio a few years ago. His agate necklaces are hand-carved and set with gold by master craftsmen in India, where he travels a few times each year. Look for Kothari’s statement jewels at Gump’s.
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This article was published in 7x7's March issue. Click here to subscribe.