Inspiration comes in all forms, and sometimes in the places we least expect it.
Jewelry designer Danyell Rascoe had traded in her childhood love for crystals and gemstones for a fast-paced career in the fashion industry, which brought her on business trips to India. There, she began to collect Rajasthani and Tamil jewelry, echoes of which can be seen throughout her designs—in the soft blooms of her Layla studs, and the geometric bulbs of the Table Leg Earrings, amongst others. With an eye on maintaining the balance between delicateness and strength, Danyell’s pieces, which are often made with 10 karat gold and sterling silver, aim to become a part of the wearer’s experience of everyday luxury.
I chatted with Danyell to discuss her creative process, the challenges she has faced as a designer, and her guilty pleasures.
Number of years in the business:
I’ve been making fine jewelry for 14yrs. My newest collection, Dan-yell, is 6yrs old.
How did you get your start designing jewelry?
I have a background in fashion. Before I started my jewelry business I was working for a fashion designer, Alpana Bawa, and traveling to India for work. I started buying loads of jewelry during my travels and on my last trip I felt like I needed a change from fashion. I mulled it over with my mom and she asked, “Since you’ve been purchasing so much jewelry while traveling why don’t you consider learning to create it?” I took her up on that idea and enrolled in jewelry making classes. Once I started taking classes I caught the jewelry bug and have been making jewelry ever since.
What’s your biggest accomplishment or piece of jewelry you’re most proud of?
My snake silhouette aziza bracelet was a big accomplishment because of the time it took me to get the curves and shape to fit the wrist just right. I also like my interpretation of the chili. My chili designs are inspired by the Italian horn talisman with ancient cultural influences as inspiration infused into smoother, more modern shapes. I’m really in love with my chilis, I never take them off.
Since the world today is becoming more thoughtful and learning from diverse viewpoints what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in this business?
Biggest Challenge: To be honest, managing my creative time as an independent jeweler can be challenging at times. I have so many design ideas, but sometimes it’s hard when you are the designer, maker, production, promoter, etc. to have time to play around with new designs and execute them at the same time.
Pertaining to diversity, have you specifically encountered any challenges as a black designer?
I constantly self doubted if I should be the face of my jewelry brand. I’ve been lucky that many have taken me seriously and I appreciate everyone. In the past, the fashion world has stigmatized magazine covers with black models having reported decreased sales and in the back of your mind (as a designer) you can often feel you are being too sensitive or paranoid when diversifying. They taught us at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) that it is best to have a diverse group of models displaying our designs and I agree. Mostly, I love that jewelry speaks for itself in many ways.
Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is a rare gem to get such a sincere and honest viewpoint as our industry educates itself.
What inspires your creative process?
The women of New York and the really cool individuals I meet when ‘people watching’ in the city. I’m constantly inspired by women who are fierce and creative in their fashion choices. I love when a woman doesn’t limit herself based on her age or based on trends. When I encounter such women I think, “How would she wear my jewelry, and how would she layer?”
I also have a strong community of like minded jewelers as friends that are a great support of encouragement as I design.
Tell me about your collection, is it your namesake?
Yes it is. Danyell Rascoe Fine Jewelry is my first collection. I started in the fine jewelry realm of 22k and 18k gold when I first started designing. I have always been very gem focused in subtle ways. I love seeing a beautiful gemstone and trying to find a simple way to make it pop. My more accessible 10k Dan-yell collection morphed from my Danyell Rascoe Fine because I wanted an accessible option for everyone.
Tell me, which pieces are your client’s favorites?
Clients love the tear shaped Layla stud earrings. They are one of the first designs I ever made and they are great for stacking. The Lua hoop earrings are also a hands down favorite. I gave the customers a lot of choices and many different versions. Tear shapes, moon shapes, ovals — they are classic pieces of my fine jewelry collection that are now both available in 10k gold.
5 songs on your playlist while creating:
Alice Smith – “Mystery”
Little Dragon – “Are You Feeling Sad “
Helado Negro “Seen My Aura”
Jill Scott- “Blessed”
Bill Withers – “Can We Pretend”
Describe your personal style:
Colorful, relaxed-chic…. if that’s a word. Similar to my jewelry with hints of different cultures.
Jewelry you are wearing?
I always wear my Cuban link chain gifted to me by my late Uncle, and a necklace with my chili’s that I never take off.
What would you be doing if you weren’t designing jewelry?
I would most likely be working in fashion because it was my first love. Before I caught the jewelry bug, of course!
Before COVID I was obsessed with luxury clean/ greenish lipsticks. Red of course! Kjaer Weis & La Bouche Rouge. I still wear it everyday walking around my apartment. But now my guilty pleasures turn to more of the self care aspect like face mask Lovinah Skincare “Blue Butterfly Stem Cell Mask “
Sorry can’t give you one – Trapiche Emerald, Lapis, gems with saturated colors. Any stone with inclusions of little embedded treasures.