Discover Third Crown, Jewelry Brand to the Stars

Words by The Folklore Team

Third Crown Marcy Cuff

It’s widely known that a piece of jewelry can be a great means of self-expression. From amulets and charms that bring good luck to pieces that denote social status, jewelry can communicate a lot of things about a person without a word being said. They can also be as much of a political comment as a sartorial statement.

The act of dressing up and adorning ourselves with jewelry can greatly influence how we feel on any given day. What we wear can make us feel more or less prepared for the day, like armor, affect our confidence and, even in some cases, as research has shown, more or less competent.

For Black people, though, jewelry takes on a more cultural significance. Hip-hop rappers of the 1980s and 1990s famously ushered the era of “bling”—conspicuous, statement jewelry that weighed tons and cost a whole lot. While it was easy to disregard them as unsophisticated displays of wealth, bling represented success and the kind of riches that had been denied to Black people. And even with their success, many rappers and athletes had to have their pieces custom-made because the traditional jewelry houses were not interested in serving them.

While the barrier to entry is high and many designers of color are very much underrepresented in jewelry design, more and more designers are emerging in this sector of the fashion industry, using the small pieces of accessories to tell stories about identity, empowerment and symbolism.

Kofi and Kristin Essel are not just partners in life, but in business. The husband-and-wife duo are the brains behind New York jewelry brand Third Crown, which they started in 2013. The brand gets its name from their union, as the result of two creatives coming together to form a third entity.

Kristin and Kofi Essel, founders of Third Crown

The inception of Third Crown came after Kristin, a jewelry design intern at David Yurman in New York, gifted menswear designer Kofi a rosary bead necklace she designed and made for him. Kofi wore it constantly and the necklace received many compliments and inquiries about it, Kofi, prompting him to suggest the idea of combining their talents to launch a jewelry brand together.

Kristin, a Queens native who was raised in Florida, brought to the venture valuable experience gained from stints at Reed Krakoff and Eddie Borgo while Kofi, who grew up between the UK and Ghana, studied menswear design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The couple has successfully managed to devote themselves to a single shared vision that has seen their designs worn by Beyoncé, Solange Knowles, Issa Rae, Chloe Bailey and Simone Biles. The DNA of the brand is infused with their harmonious partnership and honor for their Ghanaian heritage and Jamaican roots.

Third Crown produces modern and unique jewelry that calls back to the bold designs worn by African chiefs to signify their status, and also takes inspiration from geometric shapes that can be found in architectural structures. The brand’s first collection was called the Arc collection, after the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris, France. The pieces established the clean lines, arc and triangular bevel designs that have since become a house signature.

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