“In a perfect world no one would tell women they are too masculine or men they are too feminine. It’s bullshit and a remainder from a patriarchal past,” Maria Black argues. The Danish jewelry designer with Irish roots doesn’t give a lot for societal gender norms, and her designs are therefore built on an ethos of inclusivity and openness. “My jewelry is worn by both men and women, and it’s completely intentional the look goes both ways,” she says. Maria Black jewelry are especially known for their edgy and androgynous look. And unisex has become one of the brand’s main trademarks. As the designer herself explains, she’s never been interested in an ultra-feminine aesthetic. To Black, it’s always been about creating pieces that would make people feel both strong and confident. The jewelry is therefore designed without compromise and to express personality and attitude. “Jewelry expresses the past and present, and is personal in a way clothes and accessories can never be,” Black argues. “You wouldn’t save your mom’s shirt forever – you’d save her ring.” To make the connection between jewelry and personal style even stronger, Black has introduced piercing studios in her stores. This way, customers have the opportunity to create or renew their personal look with a new piece of jewelry – pierced in on the spot.
Black launched her eponymous jewelry brand in London ten years ago, after graduating as a goldsmith. She started out selling her designs on various markets in East and West London to earn money for rent, as the first collection slowly started taking shape. “It was very straightforward, so the journey has been beyond anything expected,” she reminisces. Today, the designer has moved back to Copenhagen where she and her team constantly collaborate on developing and renewing the strong Maria Black brand. As part of that, all pieces are designed at the headquarter to reassure a common thread throughout each collection. “Until this year, I was the sole designer. But now I have a small product development team and two junior designers. It is so great to have fresh ideas and perceptions,” she tells. And while the daily operation runs from Copenhagen, the connection abroad is still strong. Maria Black jewelry are sold globally, and the brand experienced great international success early on with celebrities such as Rihanna as loyal fans. “I used to be extremely proud and happy whenever famous personalities chose to wear my jewelry. Today, I’m much happier when I coincidentally walk past someone wearing a piece of Maria Black jewelry,” Black says.
The past decade has been an eventful journey for the brand as well as for the designer personally. And now that the global market is conquered and old-fashion gender norms have been kicked to the curb, Black is ready to take on the next step: responsibility. As she reveals, the past year – with the corona pandemi and lost opportunities – has made the team turn their focus towards more responsible product and customer journeys. The goal is a 360 degree sustainable strategy. “We want to make sure everyone choosing to invest in us will feel that we invest in them and our planet. 2021 will be the beginning of this new journey and our ambitions are high,” she concludes.