How a Trip to Japan Inspired This Designer's Stunning New Collection

Jacques Burga

After traveling from Tokyo to Sapporo, Beltrán couldn’t help seeing the creative potential beyond jewelry.

Miniature watercolor paintings set within pieces of crystal, seashells inlaid with red jasper, and black jade inset with mother-of-pearl are among the pendant designs that make up the newest collection in Sara Beltrán’s fine jewelry line, Dezso. While they incorporate many of the motifs she’s known for—items sourced from the ocean, a sensibility inspired by her travels to Tulum, a carving technique she learned in India—the designs reflect a new source of inspiration: Japan.

Beltrán traveled there last November, visiting antiques stores where she was most struck by pieces inlaid with mother-of-pearl. “There are so many aspects of Japanese craftsmanship that fascinate me, but I’m especially obsessed with their inlay work,” says Beltrán, whose Chordata Collection employs the look.

Brian Henn

During the trip, which took her from Tokyo to Sapporo, the designer made stops at artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Odawara Art Foundation near Tokyo and the MOA Museum of Art in Atami. Along the way, she filled her suitcase with items to source from for future collections. Back in New York, she couldn’t help seeing the creative potential beyond jewelry.

The sea urchin shell purchased at the department store Tokyu Hands is inspiring a series of hand-carved ebony pieces for the home. The navy blue and orange obi ties found at the market outside Senso-ji, a temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, will be referenced in a new line of kimonos that are available from her Instagram account and by appointment in her New York studio. “For every swatch of fabric, I’m creating two kimonos, each with different hand embroidery,” says the designer. “Every piece will be unique.”