Drawn to jewelry at a young age, designer Joseph Knight of Knight&Hammer knows a thing or two about beautiful baubles. Spending hours amidst his grandmother Ida Katherina Hammer’s jewelry collection (for whom the company was named), Knight was destined for big things. In fact, Knight not only creates unique, statement-making jewelry, but makes “giving back” a priority by donating to many different charities–coining the term, “Jewelry with a Conscience.” We caught up with the talented, philanthropic designer to see how an affinity for vintage jewels brought him full circle.
Joseph Knight: My love affair with jewelry began in my grandmother’s jewelry boxes. My grandmother, Ida Katherina Hammer, affectionately called Oma, turned her master bedroom into a walk-in jewelry box. This room ignited my imagination and fueled my appreciation for magnificent baubles. The walls were filled with framed vitrines of vintage brooches while jewelry boxes of necklaces, rings and gem bracelets were scattered over every available surface of the room. As a child, I spent hours finding hidden treasures.
My childhood Saturdays would start with my father dropping me off at her apartment, where Oma and her friends, sporting Chanel suits, would be waiting for me in their garden courtyard with breakfast. During their conversations, these elegant women would commission me to create jewelry for them. In those days, I took payment in kisses and European chocolates. Unfortunately, I don’t do that today. My early creations consisted of Oma’s rhinestones glued to paper which they’d tape on to those Chanel suits like Important Jewelry purchased from Cartier, Winston’s or Tiffany.
2+7: Much of your jewelry is animal themed. Are animals/nature your main source of inspiration? What else inspires you?
JK: The sacred feminine is my ultimate inspiration and nature is the manifestation of Mother Nature’s bounty and beauty. I am drawn to ancient lore and legends and am inspired to reinterpret them for today’s warrior princesses. I want my jewelry to make the wearer feel beautiful and empowered. I also surround myself with very wonderful women that I have nicknamed my Muses. These women vary in age from seventeen to eighty-six and never cease to be a source of inspiration.
JK: From a very young age, Oma always said, “You’re blessed, to continue receiving those blessings give back.” I want what I create to be more than an accessory, I want it to in some small way change the world, making it a better place.
JK: October 22nd marks the 13th anniversary of Knight&Hammer, which is really hard to fathom. In honor of our Lucky 13 we’re hosting a first-time ever Private Sale – Secret Location, with 50% off in-stock jewelry for one day for 5 hours on Sunday, October 28th, on New York’s Upper East Side from 1 to 6pm. To get the location just email info@KnightandHammer.com with “Secret” as the subject.
We are also working on two shows one is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 18th and the other will be in early December to benefit LibertyHealth Foundation, where I am an active member of the board and former Vice Chairman. The last three years, I have been fortunate enough to work with Kelly Dooley Kalley of BodyRock Sport on some of the world’s most avant-garde sports bras. Our collaborations have graced the boobs of champion body builders, top sports models and pop icon Britney Spears.
For S/S 2013 we are proud to premiere our Shadows Collection, 16 new designs. My inspiration for this collection is the proverb, “If you don’t have Shadows, you’re not standing in the Sun.” All the designs are pulled from nature but are two-dimensional, which is a departure from my normally highly detailed work. I am very excited about the bold crispness of the collection. On the other end of the spectrum, I have created an entire collection of jewelry showcasing a Filigree Butterfly, which is incredible girly, yet holds to the warrior esthetic.
And watch him as The Righteous Reverend Joseph Knight at Kelly’s wedding on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress!