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Sara Beltrán’s Luxe Fossils

The designer scours the markets of Jaipur, India, for fossil shells that are more than a million years old to fashion her jewelry collection Dezso.

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD A issue 02/06/2012

Sara Beltrán scours the markets of Jaipur, India, for fossil shells that are more than a million years old to fashion her jewelry collection Dezso by Sara Beltrán, which began in 2010 as a contemporary line with colorful cotton friendship bracelets adorned with silver or gold shark teeth.

Since then, Beltrán — who splits her time between Jaipur, New York and Tulum, Mexico — has honed her craft and spends the majority of her time working with fossils, rose gold, coral, pietersite, tanzanite, kyanite and polki diamonds (which are naturally mined, uncut and rough).

“Many of the materials I work with — such as shells, shark teeth and coral — come directly from the ocean, as well as the motifs throughout my line that are carved in different precious and semiprecious stones or cast in gold or silver,” Beltrán said.

The result is a fine jewelry collection that feels more fun than fine. The pieces possess a surfeit of sophistication — such as her fossil shell necklace with kyanite on a rose gold chain, retailing for $7,070 — yet are still extremely wearable. A polki diamond gold cuff with three rows of tanzanites might retail for $55,000, but not all of her jewelry is quite that expensive. The El Paso-born Beltrán’s pieces range from $100 for a single petite shark tooth on a Mexican tassel necklace to coral and polki diamond earrings for $1,050 to a kyanite open water gold cuff for $16,960.

“In Mexico, I am able to go back to my roots to find artisanal ethnic materials that are incorporated into my line, such as my Mexican handwoven bracelets and the use of Mexican tassels for necklaces and bracelets,” Beltrán said. “In India, I have found inspirations in the colors I see there, as well as the tradition and workmanship. This has all helped me develop my designs. I have worked with craftsmen in India who’ve helped me produce the carved shell and shark fin shapes in semiprecious stones set with polki diamonds.”

The pieces are sold worldwide at Barneys New York, Forty Five Ten in Dallas, Roseark in Los Angeles, Muse in Luxembourg, Liberty in London as well as at Ron Herman, Restir and The Secret Closet, all in Tokyo.

The recipient of the 2012 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award for accessories, the designer will host her first presentation as New York Fashion Week kicks off on Thursday, and plans to expand into the lifestyle category with furniture. Besides the chairs and tables containing the same themes as her jewelry, she also works with her friend Jennifer Binney on a line of bags and clothing called Samudra.