Exquisite craftsmanship and exceptional stones are a given in the world of high jewelry, but for Vania Leles, the mind behind VanLeles, fine design shouldn’t stop at technical pedigree. As her big, bold collection, which recently launched stateside with a trunk show on ModaOperdani.com, proves, classicism and eclecticism don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Born in Guinea-Bissau and raised in Portugal, the 38-year-old’s background gives her designs a global perspective uncommon among high jewelry’s heavy hitters. And while she trained with a few of them—after a modeling career, Leles enrolled at GIA and went on to work at Graff, De Beers, and Sotheby’s—her formal training only helped to bring gravitas to her fresh contemporary designs, rather than quash them completely. Fluidity and movement runs throughout VanLeles, as best demonstrated by earrings with a mosaic of Paraiba tourmalines and diamonds that appears to float, or articulated settings that allow stones to move with the wearer.
In conjunction with her U.S. launch, Leles is debuting a collection created in collaboration with Gemfields, a leading producer of responsibly sourced gemstones. The five-piece collection, including the ring pictured here, utilizes richly hued Zambian emeralds, whose provenance struck a chord with Leles.
“As I am from Africa, it is only natural for me to ensure that I use ethically sourced materials whenever possible,” says Leles. “The beauty of jewelry shouldn’t start at the shop floor but where it all begins: the mines and the communities around those mines. We can all do our part by giving back to the local communities where our materials are mined.” Conscientious and chic? That’s truly modern.
Shop pieces from the trunk show, live for one more week, at modaoperandi.com.