French Caribbean jewelry designer Jessie Bonne is exotic even by Miami standards. The Martinique native arrived in Florida after bouncing around Paris and Mexico City, where she met her Chilean husband, for 15 years. Despite this tough time, she has a lot to celebrate in 2020, including the fifth anniversaries of her marriage, move to Miami and founding of her Kult fine-jewelry line. The milestone called for, well, a Milestone collection, which launched Oct. 1.
“With this new collection, the line has evolved into more valuable statement pieces that have the same essence and aesthetic, but in precious materials and bolder styles,” she said, of the expansion into smooth-faced, chunky rings — a chic play on retro pinky rings — pendants and a bracelet in rubies, malachite, and 14K-karat yellow and rose golds. “The rings especially have had good response. They have an Art Deco flair and are genderless, so both men and women are attracted.”
Bonne commissions artisans in downtown Miami’s Seybold Building, the region’s jewelry hub, to hand-make a portion of Milestone. Its prices generally fall within $1,300 to $1,650, compared to her much more affordable bread-and-butter base of minimal, wispy designs in lapis lazuli, onyx and sterling silver. She also has a fair-trade partnership with a jewelry workshop in Mexico run by a father-daughter duo.
Bonne sells through her web site and regional accounts like Mrs. Mandolin in Miami and Four Seasons at the Surf Club in Surfside, along with frequent trunk shows from Palm Beach to Tulum during high season. “Aside from getting to play with more stones like rubies sourced in India, one of the main reasons I moved into the premium market is so my labor receives better pay. You can only make that happen with higher-priced pieces,” she said.
She’s hopeful her clientele will opt for a little color when reemerging from stricter lockdown this fall. She sees the serendipity in choosing malachite, whose spiritual meaning is linked to transformation and healing, as the center of Milestone pre-COVID-19.
“I had no idea we’d be going through such a big transformation as a society in 2020,” said Bonne, having postponed Milestone’s originally planned spring debut. “Maybe it’s good I had to wait because now people may feel they need an amulet with a strong stone to accompany them for what’s coming, from the elections to so many other changes and challenges.”