Self-taught Jeweler Lauren Harwell Godfrey Infuses Her Pieces With Directional Energy

Lauren Harwell Godfrey took an unconventional path to creating jewelry. Self-taught, she left the world of advertising, went on a trip to the Tucson Gem Fair and began a journey of self-discovery. Her whimsical collections, centered around personal heritage and healing energies, have gained her a following and a 2022 Gem award for jewelry design. Here, WWD takes a deep dive into her work — and the power of using it to give back.

WWD: Your work has roots in ancient textiles and patterns of the African Diaspora; how does this sense of culture and heritage inform and evolve your work?

Lauren Harwell Godfrey: The design language of the African diaspora, with all of its vibrant colors and intriguing patterns, plays a big role in my work in part because it’s a way of honoring and connecting to my heritage, but also because it’s a place that I love to visit. I am always so inspired by my trips to Africa and it’s such a big continent that as I continue to explore it my work will continue to evolve as a result.

WWD: Jewelry is often embedded with sentimental connotations through symbolism and energy. How does that help shape and give purpose to what you create? How do you choose the materials and gemstones you use to help tell your story?

L.H.G: I think a lot about energy when I am designing my collections. I use a lot of triangle motifs in my work, which are not only the strongest shape, but have a very directional energy. I called one of my earliest collections “Good Juju” because I love the idea of putting positive vibes into the world through my jewelry. I am often told my jewelry feels happy and joyful and that’s a huge compliment to me.

Harwell Godfrey

Harwell Godfrey jewelry.

courtesy of Harwell Godfrey

WWD: In 2020 you launched your Charity Heart collection to support World Central Kitchen, which helps people experiencing food insecurity. Can you expand on why as a young brand it was important to use your work to help uplift causes you care about?

L.H.G: It was important as a young brand and will continue to be important as my brand matures, because as a designer I have an opportunity to support causes I believe in through my work. It’s also a very clear way to share brand values and connect with collectors who believe in what I am doing.

WWD: Who are your jewelry icons past or present?

L.H.G: Let’s start with Josephine Baker — she epitomized Art Deco glam to me and I especially love images of her Jean Dunand Giraffe set. I am very into ’70s jewelry right now and love how Diana Ross styled her jewelry in that era. Presently, I’d have to say Cynthia Erivo. I love that in a world where so many celebrities are wearing jewelry as part of a contractual obligation, Cynthia wears what speaks to her and what she believes in. She’s a big supporter of independent designers and we love her for it.

WWD: What advice would you give today’s customer on how to wear their jewelry in their day-to-day life?

L.H.G: More jewelry reads as more casual, whereas if you wear one special piece it feels more like a dressy occasion move. So, for day to day, don’t be afraid to pile it on a little and layer.

WWD: Is there a collection or a piece that resonates to you the most or marks a milestone for your collections?

L.H.G: The Muzo Emerald Totem necklace I made as part of my Cleopatra’s Vault collection. I created it as part of a designer collaboration with Muzo and it’s the first time I had ever worked with such precious emeralds. I love that this necklace incorporates so much of what I am known for — geometric patterns, large scale, mixed gem shapes — along with these incredibly rare stones.

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