uick. What do Jordan, London, India and Big Sur all have in common?

OK, so maybe the answer isn’t immediately obvious. But all are collections in Robindira Unsworth’s line of jewelry—sold at tony emporiums such as Fred Segal, gracing the necks of celebrities such as Camryn Mannheim and Debra Messing, and styling the pages of such trend bibles as InStyle (as seen in the July issue in the Jewelry Box) and Lucky.

Raw Materials

Start out with some talent, throw in a soupcon of silver and top off with topaz, and the results speak for themselves. While Unsworth started out using silver, she was quickly drawn to gold. “I’m in love with silver, but the stones really pop with gold,” she says. “There’s another level of texture and richness with gold that you don’t have with silver.” The designer generally uses semiprecious stones such as apatite, tourmaline and topaz for her creations.

Unsworth, who worked for years as an emotional support counselor for people with AIDS, stumbled upon design when she sewed small pouches as favors for her wedding guests. “If we’d talked six years ago and you said I’d be a jewelry designer, I’d have thought you were crazy,” she laughs. But the process of producing the bags unleashed her creative spirit. “I completely fell in love, and I discovered something I didn’t know about myself.”

So after the wedding, Unsworth took a sewing class and “went crazy” making purses for friends and acquaintances, and the word-of-mouth grew. “I would just go in [to boutiques] wearing one of my bags, not planning to sell, and they’d say ‘Where’d you get that bag?’ and that’s how it started.” From there she segued into her current jewelry line.

Nest Rings
Nest Rings
Signature Statements

Unsworth’s “nest rings” are some of her most popular pieces, along with the hammered-bead triple-strand. One of Unsworth’s favorite pieces is the Isis, a gold and tourmaline confection available by special order. “It’s such an incredible statement piece, I just love the way it drapes. There’s an elegance to it—it transcends time.”

Natural Habitat

“I definitely design for a woman who’s confident and independent and likes to have fun with fashion but isn’t a slave to trends. And who loves beautiful things, and wants to have pieces that are more unique and not something that everybody else has. She’s a career woman and a mom, and a woman who feels beautiful.”


Unsworth finds ideas for her pieces everywhere: “It’s a matter of keeping your eyes open—traveling, food, textiles.” In fact, her Jordan collection was inspired by the opportunity she had to attend a royal Jordanian wedding. “A week of this incredible opulence, beautiful tents and intricate flower arrangements and torches and amazing food. Not to mention the jewelry.” The tiara choker was inspired by bride’s tiara–when she first saw it, she thought, “I have to make something like that.”

A tiara
A tiara

Her nest rings were inspired by the California coast–“the juxtaposition of the rocks and the water.” While designing the India collection, “I was thinking of Indian saris and beautiful silks.” Unsworth, who has a Norwegian father and a Kashmiri (via Trinidad) mother, and is based in San Francisco, feels strong ties to her mother’s heritage: “It’s such a part of who I am.”


Unsworth isn’t just resting on her laurels. “We’d like to move into fine jewelry and precious stones, but still keeping it small and high-end, using local artisans, keeping it home-grown, but working with the very best of materials. Diamonds are definitely in the future.”n

Nakasha Ahmad adores jewelry.
Published on June 6, 2005.
Photography: Steve Burns.

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