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Carolyn Roumeguere is continents away from the average jewelry designer, literally. Brought up among Masai warriors in Kenya, Roumeguere credits both her nomadic childhood and tribal relationships for the inspiration behind her eponymous jewelry. “The Masai taught me proportion and color…no one does it better,” Roumeguere said. Her artistry began as personal gifts to family and friends, which, thanks to word of mouth and considerable demand, soon evolved into an exclusive collection available at limited Henry Beguelin locations. From this humble start, Roumeguere has grown an organic worldwide audience, one that was jump-started by the designer’s friendship with Donna Karan. The two kindred souls met in Kenya in 2003 while Karan was on vacation there. Less than a year later, Roumeguere was cited as Karan’s muse for her safari-based spring 2004 collection. The friendship continued from there, and Karan’s Urban Zen retail locations now prominently feature Roumeguere’s jewelry. “Carolyn is a real inspiration…she stands for everything Urban Zen is about,” Karan said. Roumeguere’s designs range from intricately designed gold, diamond and emerald-crystal “Masai” earrings to a bracelet with a resin lionclaw charm. The line is priced to retail from $275 to $27,000. True to her nomadic roots, Roumeguere has recently moved her family from Kenya to a small village on the Pacific coast of Mexico, where she hopes to continue her work with local artisans.
This story first appeared in the October 18, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.