I’ve been following Kara Ross’s designs for quite a few years, now her colorful and creative designs are so gorgeous and truly unique. When I came up with this idea to interview women who inspire me in the industry, Kara was one of the first people I reached out to. She was so generous and kind in taking the time to answer my questions and indulge my little idea. The career she has built is truly inspiring. Read on for the full interview. I know you’ll be as intoxicated by her amazing jewelry, as I am.
Gem Therapist: How did you get into the industry? Was it a lifelong passion?
Kara Ross: When I was a teenager, my parents took me on a trip to Africa where I bought some loose green tourmaline gemstones. When I returned to Philadelphia, my mother took me to Jeweler’s Row in Philadelphia where I designed my first ring around those stones – ever since I’ve been in love with jewelry and knowing I could create something wholly unique at a young age has really had a strong impact on my life. I attended the Gemological Institute of America over 20 years ago, and became a certified gemologist. For many years, I worked as a private jeweler creating one-of-a-kind pieces for clients primarily working with diamonds and south sea pearls.
GT: Were there women in your life who inspired you and drove you?
KR: My family is full of strong women. My maternal grandmother immigrated to the US
from Ireland alone when she was only 13. She had two older sisters in the US, but
really had to make her own way and worked as a governess for a family in
Philadelphia. My paternal grandmother, who also immigrated from Ireland as a
teenager supported her family of four children by running a boarding home for
elderly women in New Rochelle, NY after her husband passed away at a young age.
You can’t get much stronger than that!
My own mother taught me that if I really wanted something,
I needed to ask for the opportunity to prove that I could do it.
She always told me how important it is to be true to oneself, and really taught me the importance of perseverance.
GT: Tell us about your design process, does it start with a rough sketch or do
you build your design around the stones?
KR: My design process often starts with the gemstones themselves, especially for our
one-of-a-kind pieces. I look at the stones and see how they can be worn together in
their raw form or if there are shapes and textures that would be interesting. We
then start sketching pieces and finally work directly with our lapidarist and bench
jeweler to create the pieces. There is a tremendous amount of craftsmanship that
goes into each piece. All of our jewelry is made from hand cut and hand polished
stones, including our diamonds, each piece is handcrafted making each piece, truly
GT: What’s a piece of jewelry in your personal collection that you can’t live
without and why?
KR: I recently had the diamond my husband gave me reset into a really uniqueserpent ring, which I wear on my right hand. Through the process of designing and resetting the ring, it got me thinking about the meaning of
diamonds which has inspired me to create a new initiative all about
empowering women around the world. Stay tuned, for a major announcement
this fall about the initiative!
GT: What inspires you? From where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
KR: First and foremost, gemstones inspire me – when I come across a spectacular andvivid one, the design unravels before my eyes. Also travel – it opens a world of
creativity because it exposes me to new and beautiful places and ideas. I am inspired
by all of the new places, people, customs, clothing, and architecture that I see.
GT: Because I am obsessed with them, tell me more about the Azurite and
peach druzy earrings. They are just incredible.
KR: I found the azurite stones on my first trip to the Gem Show in Tucson and
then searched and searched for stones that would complement the azurite. I
had never seen this color and size of peach drusy before and still haven’t seen
GT: Finally what’s one piece of advice that you would give women who are
starting out in this business?
KR: It’s important to have passion about the business, you will spend much more time at
launching and running your own business than working at another company, so you
have to love what you are doing and be passionate about it.
I think it is vital to really know gemstones and the materials you are working with,
which is why I studied at the GIA and became a certified gemologist.
Planning and execution is also a vital component of success – make sure you have a
clear vision about what your business is and how to execute it. Surround yourself
with advisors who have a variety of experience in the industry and hire for fit, you
not only need a specific set of skills, you need to find people who work well with you
and fit your style.
And remember that the road to success isn’t short, there are many twists and turns
and uphill battles, but keep going – many fail because they lack perseverance and
Again thank you to Kara and her team for making this happen. If you’re not already following their instagram account,You should be! Not only is the jewelry fantastic but the nail art that sometimes accompanies it, is seriously amazing!