From architecture to jewelry design


NAME Rosa Van Parys

AGE 42

HOMETOWN Quito, Ecuador

LIVE NOW In Westlake Village, Southern California, with her husband and business partner, Michael Van Parys, and their two children.

CONTEXT When Ms. Van Parys was growing up, her father, Ecuadorian journalist and novelist Diego Cornejo Menacho, put education first. “My father always said, ‘I give you the gift of education so that you can support yourself and never depend on anyone,” she said. After high school, Ms. Van Parys first went to France, where she studied graphic and plastic arts, then returned to Ecuador to obtain a professional degree in architecture.

Over the next five years, she earned a master’s degree in building science from the University of Southern California School of Architecture (where she met her husband) and a master’s degree in design from Harvard. In 2012, the couple opened a boutique, Van Parys Architecture & Design, focusing on residential projects in upscale Southern California enclaves like Malibu and Newport Beach.

In their studio, they maintain a library of luxury materials such as malachite, lapis and agate tiles for the counters; gold leaf for false walls; and lighting made of onyx and alabaster – elements that helped Ms. Van Parys get into jewelry making.

DESIGN WOMAN In 2016, Ms Van Parys decided it was time to upgrade the pearl and silver jewelry she made for fun. Her first high-end design, a white gold multi-chain necklace, incorporated three emerald-cut aquamarines that belonged to her grandmother. “Jewelry wasn’t meant to be a business,” she said with a sad smile. “I thought this was going to be my stress reliever.”

While navigating the jewelry industry has been tricky (“We don’t have unlimited funds for PR and consignment,” Ms. Van Parys said), translating her interior design aesthetic into decor for the body came naturally. “We didn’t have any training in jewelry, but when you’re an architect you’re a problem solver,” she said. “Your eye is drawn to the right materials. I know when a stone is amazing.

ONGOING PROJECT Ms. Van Parys’ designs are alternately sassy and sophisticated, with recurring designs that include interlocking circles, cobblestone mirror balls, flamboyant skulls with gem-set eyes and spiky 18k gold cones. set on organic Tahitian white and black South Sea pearls. “I love the edge,” she said.

An avid tennis player, Ms. Van Parys recently created a series of luxury pendants for tennis balls and rackets in 18k gold and diamonds. His collection is also full of animal images, such as a rose gold anaconda ring adorned with graduated pink sapphires and a yellow sapphire panther head pendant placed atop a pair of golden crossbones.

EXPENSIVE EFFORT Explaining prices to potential customers and wholesale partners is one of Ms. Van Parys’ biggest challenges. “Bracelets with pave beads range from $ 3,000 to $ 11,000,” she said. “Some people say it’s hard to justify the expense for a tiny bit. And I say, “Think of it like caviar. “