In a fast-to-go world, finding something unique is not so easy. We are all get used to banality and banality itself became so common that it’s difficult to perceive that something different is possible. We live in a constant flow of information, images, relationships, trapped in a wheel of non-sense. The mass-market make everything available in a blink of an eye, on one hand this is obviously helpful, on the other eliminates our individuality. We are all dressed in the same way, we all choose the same colors season by season, we all frequent the same places and sometimes hang out with the same people too! I virtually met Oksana Belo wandering along Instagram’s expected flux (by the way her account is @obelojewelry), it was not possible to miss those surprising pieces of jewelry. Gemstones, pearls and crystals mixed together through a thin jewelry wire. A thin line of beauty in a conformed world, both online and off-line. Oksana told me she started to create jewels because she wanted to pamper herself and feel special. She simply struggled to visually articulate her personal taste with the products available. Things designed to suit everyone can’t quite express each one’s diversity. Her journey started from a single idea, we are all individual.
Let’s talk about you. Who is Oksana Belo?
Ciao, Paola! (and everyone reading this) I’m Oksana Belo, founder and Designer of OBELO jewelry. I was born in Moscow, Russia, live in USA, but consider myself a citizen of the world, which probably influences the look and feel of my jewelry. OBELO wearers can be found all over the world: Europe, USA, Australia… and hopefully, more places as the brand grows!
You decided to create your own jewelry line because the products available didn’t make you feel special. What makes an OBELO creations special?
The fact that my jewelry is one of a kind, and not just due to the nature of materials I use (corals and pearls) which are unique, but the fact that I hand-sculpt each form. For example, OBELO’s Spring/Summer ’18 Collection “Flowers of Versailles” features chokers and cuffs that I create individually, so the intricate lines of each flower are improvised a bit differently every time. This makes each piece truly original! I realize every artist calls their work “original”, so it is easier if I just show you an example, rather than talk about.
Another benefit is that OBELO pieces look editorial and are a great fit for special occasions! The jewelry is being noticed by top fashion magazines, is being worn in Hollywood and will appear on the TV show “The Good Fight“.
How long does it take to create a piece of jewelry?
Forever! Haha. But seriously, for statement pieces, such as necklaces and cuffs, it will take me 3-4 days to make. Of course, I will take breaks throughout the day, because my eyes and hands need rest. And I like to put fresh energy into each piece, not just make it when I’m exhausted and running on empty. I believe in creating every piece with love and care. I think OBELO wearers feel that energy as most of my first time buyers come back to buy more.
How does your “creative process” work?
I feel like my mind is always spinning with ideas. I keep my eyes open… My inspirations come mostly from nature, especially the ocean. Also, art is a big influence. I look at paintings for interesting color combinations, and I look to sculpture and details in architecture for lines… Of course, fashion magazines. There is inspiration in certain materials and textures… Then, I riff off all that. I like my pieces to be multi-dimensional, somewhat extravagant… and then, versatile. It’s a tall order! But I push myself, edit ruthlessly, and release very tight, limited collections. For each piece, I guarantee I’ve given it my all, and you’re bound to get a ton of compliments!
Could you explain us which kind of gemstones and materials do you use?
Pearls take the leading position, because of their class, elegance, and glow. I am especially fond of large Baroque pearls for their shape, and Tahitian Black ones for their sophisticated color. Then, coral. I search estate sales to find vintage white and black coral, because its rare and beautiful. Lately, I’m incorporating lots of semi-precious stones: Lapis Lazuli, Garnet, Amethyst, Opal. These stones are held up in my pieces with gold-filled wire. I’ve created this texture that I refer to as lace-wire. It makes an exquisite statement, yet is weightless to wear.
But honestly, OBELO jewelry value transcends materials, because it’s wearable art. Women who buy it are buying it as an expression of their style and because they know no one else will be wearing it.
Who is the Obelo customer?
You know, it’s hard for me to give you a demographic. I have customers of different ages, professions, and from different places… I think it’s more about their style… And what they value! If they resonate with my artistic vision, appreciate the intricate-delicate look, value exclusivity… Then, they will love OBELO jewelry.
Having a look at your stunning creations, they have a really reasonable price for an handmade product. I dare say you want to bring more beauty into the world, isn’t it?
Yes, I cherish Dostoyevsky’s words: “Beauty will save the world. I have a budget-friendly resort line which mostly consist of OBELO’s bestsellers, like pearl earrings. It’s a great introduction to the brand as these pieces are easy to wear and versatile.
And then I have a Couture line. The Couture line is the direction I want the brand to evolve towards because the brand’s essence is truly expressed in editorial, eye-catching pieces.
What would be the “hot piece” for SS 2018?
For me, it is any Choker from the “Flowers of Versailles” collection. The choker can also double as a pin or you can even use it as a hair ornament or a buckle on a belt.
I know you are fond of Haute Couture. Tell me something about your Haute Couture collection…
I believe in investing in great accessories. For me, this is a classic designer bag (think Chanel), oversized glamorous sunglasses, gorgeous shoes. As far as clothes go, I try to shop whenever I travel, at small boutiques that carry lesser known labels.… That way, I know no one else will be wearing what I am wearing in my home town. But once in a blue moon, I’d hit up H&M too, especially if they have some interesting designer collaboration collection. For me style is about curating a look that’s current, but consists of pieces with a story. That story is personal, not mass-produced.
When you decided to become a jewelry designer, how did your parents react? When I communicated my parents I was going to study Literature and Journalism to become a fashion editor, they just gone nuts… And my friend made a laugh!
My mom is my biggest supporter. My dad… not so much. It was a peculiar dynamic for me growing up, because my mom 100% accepted me for myself, but I was never good enough for my dad. Then my parents split, we moved to the United States… and I was left to be whoever I wanted to be.
Have you ever thought to give up?
Art is my oxygen! I cannot not do it. Of course, there are times when I hit a wall. Times when I am so frustrated… I might take a breather, rethink my strategy, drop something that’s not working… For example, when I started as a music artist years ago, I gave it all the energy I had, but it did not go anywhere… So I switched gears and followed my other great passion, love of fashion and beauty, which resulted in jewelry design.
Plans for the future?
Become a well-known brand in small exclusive circles. Like a kind of stylish women’s ‘inside secret’. I don’t want to make OBELO a huge mass-market brand, as I think it would lose its very soul… But I do wish for consistent flow of orders, so I can live as an abundant artist, not a starving one. I’ve had my fair share of challenging times.
Three things you could never renounce…
My creativity, my faith and my loved ones.