Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Emily P. Wheeler’s fine jewelry collections are inspired by time and place and created with the finest materials by the most skilled craftsmen in New York City and around the world. Emily draws from the colors and textures of an era, and captures the mood of a specific place, to create a palette that evokes nostalgia. Her most recent collection, Kitty Hawk, pulls inspiration from 80’s surf culture. Emily grew up visiting North Carolina with her family where her family loved to windsurf. The highlight of those trips for Emily was visiting local retailer Kitty Hawk Kites. The time and place are tied to distinct colors and textures in Emily’s memory - bright neon sails, pastel bathing suits, natural wood decks, black rubber booms and salty wetsuits. The Kitty Hawk collection mixes opal, garnet, turquoise, petrified palm wood, ebony, diamonds and gold.
Emily took a serious interest in jewelry at 13 while on a road trip with her father from Boston to Arizona. Her dad, an architectural photographer, stopped often at roadside markets to collect Native American turquoise and sterling silver jewels and curiosities. Also born with a collector’s eye, Emily gravitated towards colorful rocks and gems, and was gifted with a rock tumbler upon their return home.
In the years between her budding jewel obsession and her formal turn as a designer, Emily was drawn towards art and music. As a 16-year-old model, she was signed to IMG and quickly got a huge break as part of an Italian Vogue feature shot by Peter Lindbergh called “Next Generation”. Choosing to stay in school, Emily headed to Providence, RI where she was part of the punk rock scene.
Her early fascination with gems and jewelry resurfaced in her 20s, and she spent summers avidly attending trunk shows at Tayloe Piggott gallery in her parents’ hometown of Jackson, WY. Emily found success making one-off beaded pieces and selling them to friends, but longed to work with fine materials, so she started a program of self-education by attending the Tucson gem fairs and learning all she could from networking and a small group of mentors.
The next step was partnering with a small, family-owned factory in Los Angeles in 2015 to create a set of signature pieces, including her Platform ring, by learning through trial and error. Once she had a handle on the level of quality and construction she aspired to, she set out to build a collection that finds its roots in her personal history: a little bit of architectural simplicity (her dad), a little bit of punk rock (her college years), and a little bit of edge (her modeling career and love of fashion.)
Today, Emily P. Wheeler’s 18-karat gold, diamond and fine gemstone jewelry can be found in a handful of exclusive high-end retailers across the U.S., including Bergdorf Goodman, June Simmons, Fivestory, Jo Latham, and ETC.