A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky’s Shahla Karimi enjoying diamond-studded success in New York City as jewelry designer

By Sara Spiegel
Special to NKyTribune

It was during the summer of 2014 that Shahla Karimi decided to take a break from life in New York City and spend time at her childhood home in LaGrange, a sleepy town just north of Louisville. She often went home when decisions weighed heavy, especially big life decisions. After a career spanning nearly a decade in the Big Apple, she needed to hit the reset button, to figure out where the current existential crisis would take her.

Shahla Karimi, Diamond Foundry

Jewelry had merely been a hobby the five years prior when she was taking metal working classes at local technical schools and selling bespoke pieces on Etsy (the eBay of hand-made objects). It seemed otherworldly to be able to make a living designing jewelry but it was that summer in LaGrange that she decided to roll the dice and give the career gamble a three-month trial.

She designed her first collection perched on a deck overlooking Harrods Creek, a watershed that flows into the Ohio River. Only months later, Clodhoppers, an aspirational store and Louisville staple, was the inaugural stockist to carry the line. A few weeks later, celebrities including Carrie Underwood and Tessa Thompson were wearing the very same pieces. She returned to New York City and launched her namesake.

What started as a three-month test run became a full-fledged business.

Rooted in human psychology, Shahla Karimi designs seek to capture the deep-seated longing of human beings, to embrace and express their memories. Each piece of jewelry reveals a story, each collection romanticizes a memory of times past. With a brand promise to honor personal journeys, she invites her customers to celebrate life’s milestones. In Karimi’s words, “By making their stories everlasting, we ensure the timelessness of our jewelry, a form of alchemy by which we transform moments into memories.”

The freshman collection has since adorned the hands and ears of Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Graham, Rebecca Hall, Lena Dunham, Elisabeth Moss, and fashion icons like Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo.

Shahla has been featured in publications including W, Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Wallpaper, The Coveteur, InStyle, WWD, Rachel Zoe, and NY Magazine and has been on the cover of Nylon, Women’s Health and Self.

In the winter of 2017, she was asked to collaborate with Kenneth Cole, creating a capsule collection for his Bowery concept store. Most recently, she designed a collection with above-ground diamond imprint, Diamond Foundry. Released in September, the pieces draw inspiration from the decadence of the roaring 20’s, made anew by fashioning the deco silhouettes into minimal designs better fit for 2020.

Shahla Karimi

Before rebranding as jewelry designer/business owner, she worked as a product strategist, designer, and merchandiser for some of the world’s largest companies, global brands like Warner Music Group, Vogue, Diane von Furstenbergurg, Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, and Alexander Wang. She also served as Director of Merchandising for President Obama’s re-election campaign.

Her most important role to date is a new one: she now answers to Mom. Shahla and husband, Tim, a developer at the popular dating app Hinge, welcomed their first child, a son named Mads in August.

Shahla may call Brooklyn New York home, but she is a Kentuckian at heart. She visits a few times a year to see family, shop her favorite thrift stores (Nitty Gritty and other Highland favorites), enjoys a steak at Jack Fry’s and Karaoke at Akikos.

Trips back home will carry even more sentiment now with her young son. Shahla is excited to share her childhood memories and family traditions with Mads while creating new ones for her young family.

Shahla Karimi is currently sold on shahlakarimi.com, Moda Operandi, in Bloomingdales, and over 20 specialty boutiques internationally. Her newest bridal collection with The Diamond Foundry is heavily focused on engagement rings, each piece is outfitted with conflict-free carbon-neutral stones sourced from the Diamond Foundry, a world-positive producer of real diamonds that touts Leonardo DiCaprio as an investor.

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