Meet the designers behind Third Crown, the Black-owned, gender-neutral jewelry brand you need to know about

Third Crown is a Black-owned, NYC-based, contemporary jewelry brand that makes gender-neutral jewelry that can be worn casually or as stunning statement pieces. On this episode of In The Know Style: Changemakers, Third Crown’s husband and wife design duo, Kristin and Kofi Essel, talk about their brand ethos, architectural inspiration, and design process. 

The Third Crown design process first starts with a reference. “We take a lot of inspiration from architecture,” says Kristin. “Our first collection was inspired by the Arc de Triomphe and that kind of led to our next collection called the ‘Melted Arc’ collection,” adds Kofi. “We took the arc shape and kind of wrapped it around itself,” he explains. 

But much of their architectural inspiration comes from their own backyard of New York City. “New York definitely inspired our design aesthetic,” admits Kristin. For instance, a building at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology inspired Third Crown’s “Prizm” collection, “where we’re taking the beveled prismatic detail from our previous collections to create the Prizm collection,” explains Kofi. 

Third Crown pieces are made using brass to show off the bold and dynamic designs, and are plated with 14K or 18K gold, which makes the price points more accessible to their customers. 

Third Crown’s ethos, “power of the pair,” stems from how the brand came to be. Kristin and Kofi actually met in a cab that they shared for a mutual friend’s birthday dinner, and “the rest is history,” says Kristin. Now husband and wife, they view Third Crown as the result of “two creatives coming together to form a third entity,” explains Kofi.

But the pair admit that designing as a duo isn’t always easy, but it has plenty of advantages. “When it comes to designing as a duo, you know, there are those moments where there’s pushback,” admits Kofi. “But ultimately what kind of keeps the level tone is the fact that we want to drive the brand forward.” “Compromise,” adds Kristin.

But their two perspectives give them a unique advantage when it comes to designing gender-neutral pieces that both men and women can wear

“We’re designing from a male and female perspective to create something that’s gender-neutral,” says Kofi.

“We would look at other brands and, like, the women’s pieces will look totally different from the men’s pieces,” explains Kristin. “We wanted a brand that was cohesive.”

Third Crown’s “Power of the Pair” set is probably the brand’s crowning achievement for cohesive, gender-neutral pieces. “You can wear them together. By couples, partner and partner, family members, brothers, sisters, sister-mother,” explains Kofi. “Each piece gives you confidence. The intent is to kind of share that feeling with the person that you’re most close with.”

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