Elevate Difference

Designs Inc Jewelry

For all the traveling I’ve done in India, I haven’t yet managed to make it to Goa. The Southeast coast of the country was colonized by the Portuguese (and the Dutch and the French), and—from the architecture of massive churches to the spice blends in the cuisine—that influence is still felt in South India today. Goa is a hotspot for travelers who want a reprieve from ‘traditional India’. When brown skin, masala cha, and conservative dress begin to lose their exotic appeal, folks inevitably find their way to the tourist-laden beaches where one can strut in a bathing suit while sipping an iced latte in the familiar company of other pastey foreigners. Once the sun goes down, the debauchery goes up, as sex, drugs, dancing, and sci-trance make their way out from the sand. The blendedness of this space also makes Goa a comfortable place for entrepreneurial folks to settle and set up shop, which is what Karen-Ann Lobo has done.

Despite its location, the aesthetic of Designs Inc reminds me more of a doll collection than a bundle of incense sticks. In the States, I imagine Designs Inc’s offerings would fit in quite well at a Claire’s Boutique and make many a middle school girl giddy. The styles incorporate a sensibility akin to a little girl playing dress up with her mother’s costume jewelry; the flash and craftwork is more casual than high end.

The Tahiti Nights necklace captures this hodgepodge wonderfully; a single Tahitian grey mother of pearl flower hangs at the center of a silver toned, chunky, linked chain. Attached to the bottom of the flower are two inches of blingy mishmash (Swarovski crystal pearls, blue crystals of various shapes and sizes, and circular rhinestone rungs) that settle just above the bosoms. The necklace comes with a perfectly matching, simple set of silver-toned pearl earrings that can also be worn on their own.

Similarly chockablock is the girly Eros bracelet. The silver plated chain holds a glut of weighty feminine charms in perfectly sculpted order: roundish white quartz; teardrop-shaped, pink, Czech briolettes; fire polished, translucent, Swarovski crystal cubes; and tiny, mauve Swarovski crystals. Someone with small ankles could even wear it closer to the ground, harkening back to the company’s locale.

A hint of India can also be seen in the Summer Wine and Juno earrings. The former made of sterling silver and the latter of gold (12K plate and 14K fill), both have lovely, dangling components. Juno is a cluster of Swarovski crystal pearls that hover just above a Carnelian bead while Summer Wine has small, round pearls and blue goldstone (which give off a fascinating twinkle) hanging from two interlocking circles that also holds a medium-sized, mauve trumpet crystal. Throw on some taffeta, and you’re off to the ball.

The piece that suits this aesthetic the least, and therefore, stands out the most is the French knitted Jet bracelet. The woven wire mesh is lightly sprinkled with polished chips of Black onyx, and a half-dozen extra pieces are situated on either side of the clasp. The bracelet is unique in that it gives a sense of artistry and offsets the other designs’ kitsch appeal. It also suggests that Lobo has something more up her sleeve. I guess I’ll have to go to Goa to find out.

Juno and Eros pictured here

Written by: Mandy Van Deven, March 3rd 2010