Ceava Kats is the Creative Director and Lead Designer of SOHO jewelry, an independent brand that is part of Ritani’s Designer Collections. We sat down with him to talk about the inspiration behind his unique designs, the power of jewelry for those who wear it, and what the future looks like for SOHO.
How did you come to be in the jewelry industry?
Growing up in a jewelry store, I began designing at an early age. My father was a master jeweler and my mother was a designer. One could say my design career began at the age of 13 when I began working behind the counter in my father’s jewelry store to help during the holidays. My earliest jewelry memory was helping put together stacks of bangles by different manufacturers and designers to create looks back in the mid-eighties, making sure all the bracelets stacked and laid properly with their varying dimensions and proportions.
I also spent a lot of time observing my father designing and creating engagement rings and custom jewelry. These observations would lead me to one day find the delicate balance between aesthetic, functionality, and customer satisfaction.
What inspires your designs and process?
Jewelry is adornment for the human form. I am inspired by the essential geometry of the feminine figure. Whether it be the oval that frames the wrist, the squared or rounded edge of the jaw, or the triangular base of the neck, I begin with existing figurative shapes and then attempt to enhance them with line, color, contrast and sinuosity. I allow my designs to develop organically, letting function and purpose lead the way, with each design building upon the next.
“When will she be wearing this piece? How many different ways can she use or wear it? What can she wear that will complement this piece? How will it make her feel?” are some of the questions that I continually ask myself throughout the design process.
You collaborate as a husband and wife team at SOHO. Can you describe each of your roles, and how you complement each other?
She’s the right part of the brain and I’m the left. I have to bounce all of my ideas off of her to bring them back to see level. “See, I told you so,” are her famous last words.
What do you love most about creating jewelry?
The best part of creating jewelry is to see the power it has to transform people. It’s amazing to see what a little line and color can do to enhance someone’s personality through the framing of their natural figure. I like to think of it as somewhere between makeup and picture framing. That’s why I love doing appearances because it brings forth the truest test of my designs.
The fun part is in asking, “How does it look on and what does this do for her?” I‘ve had clients who are self-conscious about their necks because of surgery, weight, or what have you, but with the right necklace and pendant hanging at just the proper length, it can make someone more comfortable in their own skin – enhancing certain elements, while distracting the eye from others.
The same goes for wrists. SOHO has primarily a bangle focus and we make fitted bangles for all sizes, so I find it challenging to create bangles for women who don’t typically wear them because they haven’t found any to be comfortable.
Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry?
That’s like asking me to pick a child, they’re all my babies. Each model that we produce takes years to cultivate and develop. Some of the finishes I like more than others, there is no substitute for black and our black enamel has an unparalleled glossy finish – you can see your reflection in it. However, as a designer, I feel that you should put your passion and love into every single one of those pieces you produce, simply because they are yours.
Who do you see the SOHO customer as?
With out bright colors and cleans lines, we definitely cater to the modern and contemporary woman who’s not afraid to wear bold colors and prints. A woman who is just as driven by comfort and wearability as with quality and craftsmanship. A woman that is playful and likes to have fun with her jewelry. Someone that is devoid of the concept of how traditional jewelry should appear.
After 20 years in the industry, I’ve seen every age and ethnicity purchase and wear SOHO jewelry – and for the next 20 years, I hope to see more of the same.
Which jewelry trends for spring/summer 2015 are you most intrigued by?
Stacking and personalization have always been at the core of the SOHO brand and these are also some of the things I see on the horizon as this year’s trends.
What’s next for SOHO?
A wise man (my father) once told me, “Keep doing what you’re doing if it leads you down the road of success.” You can expect more of the same from us, creating new and exciting colors of enamel and styles that build on our anthology of classics.