Bernard James’ flora-inspired diamonds mark ten years of Dover Street Market New York

Bernard James’ jewellerydebuting at Dover Street Market features rings, earrings and necklaces inspired by blossoming flora

Bernard James jewellery for Dover Street Market
(Image credit: Bernard James)

For jewellery designer Bernard James – who has designed a white gold edition of his signature Flora chain necklace for Dover Street Market New York to mark the store’s tenth anniversary – flora is a source of creativity, curiosity, and wonder. Inspired by the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, a stone's throw from his childhood home in Crown Heights, he reimagines the beauty of daisies, hellebores, and petunias through gold and diamonds. 

Although James’ work has transcended the neighbourhood – he produces his line in New York’s famed 47th St Diamond District in midtown Manhattan and boasts a burgeoning international following of high-jewellery connoisseurs – his Brooklyn roots are never far away. Here, he speaks to Wallpaper* from his dedicated storefront in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.

Bernard James x Dover Street Market New York

jewellery cuff

(Image credit: Bernard James)

James says that he’s ‘super excited’ about his partnership with Dover Street Market: ‘They have such a strong presence in New York and such an eclectic mix of brands. I think their merchandising is fantastic. And they have a very, distinct point of view.’ The new collection is emblematic of his aesthetic – featuring rings, earrings, necklaces of 14ct and 18ct gold, and diamonds that interpret a range of blossoming flora, including pavé diamond flora earrings shaped as lilies and helios.

While his aesthetic is well-defined, James says that his creative process and the decisions he makes in running his business are based on careful deliberation. ‘I sit on things for a long time,’ he admits. ‘Something pops into my head, but I've had to learn to be discerning.’ Perhaps it is this patience that has enabled him to avoid mass-producing and overproducing, he says.

diamond flower necklace

(Image credit: Bernard James)

The jewellery designer has a disdain for the growing industry of manufactured diamonds. ‘I'll just be very diplomatic and say, there's a use for every material,’ he says. He goes on to cite his partnership in 2023 with the Natural Diamond Council, called ‘The Process Collection’, in which he showcased the ‘journey of natural stones’, explaining that his goal was to highlight the process of cutting a natural stone and transforming it into a finished product. ‘So, I created this middle step showing that process of cutting. I’m obsessed with natural diamonds. I love the idea of working with something that's been formed over millions of years. I think it's such a special thing.’

diamond link necklace

(Image credit: Bernard James)

James has had his share of challenges breaking into the industry, and it is not lost on him that as a person of colour, in a space with both established luxury brands and multigenerational jewellery houses, it wasn’t going to be easy. ‘You sort of feel like an outsider in a lot of ways, because a lot is handed down and a lot is based on relationships.’ 

He shares a story of one client who attempted to refer friends but reported that they declined because they preferred a more recognisable house for fine jewellery. However, shortly afterwards, the same client returned and mentioned that someone at a party recognised one of his pieces on her and mentioned his line by name. ‘The fact that there is recognition on a different scale with the brand, and people are getting familiar with it, is really special to me,’ he says.