Coral, crystal, coconut shell and copper

Laura Dowrich-Phillips digs up stylish and surprising accessories made from local materials

  • Hand-fired enamel over brass, hung from a copper chain. Photo courtesy We Dream In Colour
  • Motifs are hand-coloured onto plastic, which is then cut and heat-formed, on a sterling silver chain. Photograph courtesy We Dream In Colour
  • Red ginger coral, with detailed goldtone metal beads. Photo courtesy Reve jewellery/Krystal Chung
  • Custom-made exotic metal, sterling silver and brown Jamaican agate, inspired by nature, crafted by Reve. Photograph courtesy Reve jewellery/Krystal Chung
  • These slippers and sandals are made from leather, with basil leather flowers made from sheepskin. Photograph courtesy Christopher Shepherd
  • These slippers and sandals are made from leather, with basil leather flowers made from sheepskin. Photograph courtesy Christopher Shepherd
  • A double-strand necklace with mother of pearl, shells, pearls and sterling silver
  • A knitted bracelet with green aventurine, turquoise, chrysocolla, new jade and sterling silver. Photograph courtesy Emmaloochie


Teasea and Duane Bennett

Funky, colourful, natural products

It all began with bubblegum for Rêve. It was a bubblegum sculpture that got Duane Bennett, 23, into the Edna Manley School of Design in Jamaica, where he found his niche in jewellery design. And it was a brooch made of bubblegum and glass beads that made his sister realise they were sitting on a goldmine.

“I wore it to spice up a very bland outfit, and this guest from Florida liked it and ordered a dozen in different colours. I was so pumped, I asked him if he could go to school and manage a business at the same time,” said Teasea, 28. She is Bennett’s elder sister, and worked as an assistant marketing manager at a Jamaican hotel at the time.

The eldest of three children, Teasea studied tourism and hospitality and worked in France. While there, she began to appreciate her native Jamaican culture, and yearned to run her own business one day. She even had the name picked out—Rêve, which in French means “dream.”

So with her brother as the creative force, Teasea assumed the role of manager, liaising with the Jamaica Business Development Company for financial support, registering the business and designing a logo. Rêve, the jewellery company, was born.

That was in 2006. Since then the company has had showings at Jamaica’s prestigious Caribbean Fashion Week and won many awards, including the Avant Garde award. It’s expanded distribution to five Caribbean countries, and independent retailers in Jamaica and New York. An online store will soon be added for overseas clients.

Rêve jewellery is not for those afraid of the spotlight. Funky, chunky, colourful and ornate, the line embraces raw material found in Jamaica, such as ackee seeds, coconut and coral chips. In September, a line featuring peacock and guinea-fowl feathers was launched, to be distributed through the Sandals Resort chain throughout the Caribbean.

For more information:



We Dream In Colour

Jade Gedeon

Delicate, natural, playful

For Jade Gedeon, jewellery designing was a hobby, a skill she learnt at Pratt College, Brooklyn, New York, in order to make models for the industrial design course in which she majored.

She started making jewellery for herself and then, with the encouragement of her roommate, set up a website to market her collections.

“It was a fun side income,” said Gedeon, who also spent some time studying at the Denmark Design School in Copenhagen. After graduating, she moved to Sydney, Australia, with her husband, who had a job offer there.

Try as she might, she couldn’t find a job in industrial design, so she decided to focus on her jewellery. Then good luck struck when, in 2005, the Daily Candy, a Los Angeles magazine, ran an article on Gedeon’s assortment of earrings, pins and necklaces depicting brightly coloured birds in shrunken plastic.

“The next day we had 10,000 people looking at our website. Then it became full time, it all came together.”

Since then, Gedeon’s pieces have been featured in several international publications, including Marie Claire, In Style, and US Weekly.

The name of the company, We Dream in Colour, was derived from a school project she once did, and many of her designs reflect her Trinidadian heritage: Gedeon was born in Pittsburgh, USA, to Trinidadian parents, and grew up in Trinidad from age five to 18, before migrating. Her pieces include Batimamzelle earrings, vintage crystal pieces called Soucouyant and a dark Lajablesse collection from years ago.

Gedeon works with recycled material such as brass, copper and old crystals, illustrated plastic, mother of pearl and bone, and garnishes them with natural verdigris.

“I like materials that have their own little life; I like their roughness and nature.”

Now living in Massachusetts, Gedeon sells mainly through her website and stores in the US.

For more information:



Donna Hadeed and Nicole Nahous

Fun, colourful, delicate, beaded

Nicole Nahous returned to Trinidad after studying abroad, armed with a degree in sociology and looking for a job.

Three years later, she is comfortable in the unexpected role of jewellery designer, working with her aunt Donna Hadeed on a fun, youthful line called Emmaloochie.

“It started with my aunt: she did it as a hobby, and she knew a jewellery designer who told her she had talent. Her line DonnaBella became big, and she wanted to do something that was more accessible, since DonnaBella was more exclusive. So she started Emmaloochie, named after her daughter Emma,” explained Nahous, 25.

Hadeed recruited her niece, and soon the job became a full-time one for Nahous, who learnt to handmake the beaded necklaces and earrings that are Emmaloochie’s signature.

“I was always very creative. When I was younger I used to collect beads and I loved it. Instead of buying gifts for my friends I used to go to the bead store and make necklaces.”

Targeted to a younger clientele, the Emmaloochie line is a series of limited-edition designs made of semi-precious beads and stones, sterling silver and wiring.

Nahous says their designs are based on “anything we get inspiration from.

“We try new designs and last year we brought out a new line, which basically comprises anything we could bead that is not jewellery: lamps, bookmarks, keychains.”

Nahous wants to extend the Emmaloochie name across the Caribbean, and plans to go to back to school to enhance her designing skills and learn new techniques.

So far her favourite piece is one that she designed for a friend’s wedding.

“There’s a new technique I tried, sewing the beads together instead of wiring them. I cried a couple times making it. When I was finished it was my Everest in terms of challenge—but it was my best piece.”

For more information:


Cass Art Classics

Christopher Shepherd

Caribbean, exotic, leather flowers

Christopher Shepherd was artistic from young, but it was only in 1997– 98 that he started working with leather. In 2000, he was asked to design a belt and some jewellery for a friend, and decided to fashion a flower out of leather. But the friend disliked it and advised Shepherd never to do such a thing again.

Fortunately for him, he didn’t listen.

“Her rejection was more motivating than anything. I went home and practised making more flowers until I perfected it,” he said.

Today, Shepherd is known in his native Trinidad for his leather flower designs, which adorn the earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and even sandals that he designs.

Shepherd can create any flower a customer asks for, including anthuriums and hibiscus, though his favourite is the orchid. Using basil leather, made from sheepskin, which he said is softer, he can design the flower in any colour and size.

His jewellery is sold through fashion designer Heather Jones, and the sandals in downtown Port of Spain. He also has distributors in Martinique and mainland France.


Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.