Melissa Kaye’s Aria Dagger earrings feature 18-karat yellow gold and white diamonds and are one of her most popular items at the moment. They recently launched on Net-a-Porter and retail for $8,250.
New York--Melissa Kaye doesn’t possess a typical jewelry design background.

The New York-based designer, who wrapped her three-year term in The Couture Show Design Atelier last year, was on a very different career path before giving it all up to pursue her own jewelry line.

She has an undergraduate degree in computer science and engineering from MIT and a master’s degree in computational finance from Carnegie Mellon. She spent 10 years at Goldman Sachs as a quantitative strategist, completing intense technical and financial work.

And when she finally decided to “pursue a lifelong interest in jewelry,” she didn’t take any shortcuts. Instead, she completed the two-year jewelry design program at FIT, studying design and learning to work at the jeweler’s bench.

“Given my mathematical background, I find beauty and inspiration in geometric and natural patterns,” explained Kaye. “I work to incorporate these elements throughout my line, bringing a modern edge to classic shapes. I’m driven by the notion that function must be part of the design, not an afterthought.

“Pieces are engineered to cleverly capture form and function, highlighted by many subtle and unexpected details. The goal is to make each piece in the collection striking at first glance but also demand a closer look to discover additional complexities and levels of abstraction.”

Retailers have noticed Kaye’s impeccable design quality and sophisticated taste. Last year, she picked up her biggest account to date—Net-a-Porter.

Kaye works in 18-karat gold and diamonds, and likes to mix in occasional pops of color via sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Her pieces retail for $1,500 to $16,000.

Her latest offerings, mostly earrings and rings, focus on sinuous, curved lines that end in abrupt angles, like the Aria Dagger earrings, which Kaye said are doing particularly well for her brand at the moment.

Kaye’s work is wearable but shows an elevated design perspective that sets her apart from many of her contemporaries. She describes her client as, “… between the ages of 30-70. She is well-traveled and has an urban style. She is accomplished and confident; she has a refined ease to her. Her style is luxurious and transcends labels—she appreciates quality and craftsmanship. She pairs the collection effortlessly with a white T-shirt as well as with black-tie attire.”

Kaye will be back at Couture in May with her own ballroom booth and said that her goal for the year ahead is to keep developing her designs.

“First and foremost,” she said, “we are always focused on creating exciting, unique and beautiful new pieces.”

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