A trio of Africa-inspired, emerald-encrusted pieces from New York-based fine jewellery designer Sandy Leong does not disappoint. A native of the rugged Pacific Northwest, Leong was inspired by the mountains, wildlife and coastlines of places like Alaska, Portland and San Francisco. These are not unlike Africa in their dramatic nature – and when given the chance to design a small collection for Walk for Giants, Leong jumped at it.
The brushed 18k recycled yellow gold Sahara hinge cuff features a whimsical hand-carved giraffe motif and is hand set with brilliant Zambian emeralds from Gemfields; it also has a hidden hinge for ease of use. The double ball drop earrings carry on the giraffe motif, with the same exceptional emeralds and brushed gold, this time paired with ethically mined, conflict-free diamonds, and sculpted into an elegant spherical drop earring. Finally, the Sahara poison ring, also in brushed 18k gold, has a unique design with a clasp opening and contains a ‘hidden’ rough 8.5k emerald.
The designs were inspired by the first trip Leong made to South Africa in 2009. “The wild landscapes and larger than life animals are forever imprinted in my mind,” she says. For her Walk for Giants capsule collection, she aimed to infuse a bit of whimsy into her modern and elegant designs, thus was born her hand-carved, giraffe-inspired motif. “These giants move with such grace and dignity, and that’s how I want the wearers of my pieces to feel,” she explains.
Conservation and sustainability have been at the core of Leong’s brand since she started up ten years ago. With fewer working with transparency back then, she says she “searched high and low” to find brand partners who shared her values, and concern for the planet, happily alighting on Gemfields. “Gemfields has always been a pioneer in the fields of ethics and sustainability, and it is an honour to make the seamless transition into partnership, especially to support an initiative as amazing as Space for Giants,” she adds.