Lauren Harwell Godfrey follows her passions and imagination where they lead. Her life has been shaped by changes in direction, constant learning, and a series of successful pursuits. Today, as a well-known jewelry designer in the San Francisco Bay area, she creates mesmerizing designs of mystic beauty and vision. They express her love of color with distinctive gemstones, inlay, and enamel. This unique flair has brought her to the attention of numerous fashion magazines, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, The Zoe Report, Cultured, PureWow, Town & Country, and more.
Born in Southern California, Lauren has spent much of her life in and around San Francisco, where she graduated from college and art school. It turns out, creativity runs in the family. “My grandmother was very artistic,” she says. “She was both a singer and a painter.”
From There to Here
Lauren began her career in the advertising world as an award-winning Art and Creative Director. She thrived for more than 15 years then realized she had hit a creative wall. It was time for a change — quite a radical change.
With a love for food and cooking, she attended a culinary school in San Francisco. Ever the artist, she wanted to become a food stylist. She worked at this for seven years, and during this time she began making jewelry.
“I started making jewelry for myself with funky leather and crystal jewels,” she says. “I realized pretty quickly that this was my passion and the right creative outlet for me.” Lauren’s design knowledge meshed seamlessly with creating jewelry, and she began to see the vast possibilities of gemstones and precious metals. They would allow her to work at a much higher level.
In addition to honing her design aesthetics and use of color, her years in advertising gave her a firm grounding in branding and developing a brand voice. She pursued this with the help of a friend and her business partner, professionals in this area. They helped her with brand development and more in-depth knowledge of the fine jewelry world.
Pendant and ring (above) from Harwell Godfrey’s collaboration with sustainably mined stones from Muzo Emeralds. The 18K yellow gold pendant features a 23.12 CT Emerald cabochon center stone, cultured Pearls, Mother of Pearl inlay, and Diamonds. The 18K yellow gold ring has 5.20 CT step-cut Emerald center stone, Turquoise inlay, Pink Sapphires, Amethyst, Yellow and White Diamonds.
Lauren collects textiles — many from Africa. “I’m fascinated by their geometric shapes and patterns, the power of their vivid colors,” she says. “As a woman of color, I wanted to highlight my jewelry in my own way. I felt these patterns would translate well into unique jewelry.”
Throughout her different endeavors, Lauren has often asked herself what she can contribute that’s different and unique. What’s fun, unexpected, and engaging? Looking at her creations answers this question colorfully, artfully, and luxuriously.
In July 2020, the New York Times interviewed Lauren and two other Black jewelry designers from different countries about the boost they received from these tumultuous times following George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement. “Personally, it’s been a powerful experience,” she said. “What happened in summer 2020 was supported by people throughout the country and around the world. People from across the spectrum reached out to support black-owned businesses and Harwell Godfrey attracted a wider clientele and more media attention.”
She continues: ”I came into this business naively and felt surprised there were so few Black jewelry designers. This period has made me aware of more Black designers, and that has given me a greater sense of belonging. I think we all know there’s so much work ahead, but many of us feel a renewed sense of hope.”
Lauren wants to give hope to others by contributing to causes she values. She has created three (so far!) sophisticated heart talismans, each dedicated to a particular nonprofit. All profits from the sale of these pendants go to the organizations World Central Kitchen, the NAACP and Futures Without Violence. While sketching these designs, she realized that the line of triangle inlay looked like a broken heart put back together. Each clip-on bail features a diamond-accented equal sign for unity.
Where is Lauren headed? She’s an artist so she’ll follow her spirit and imagination to ever more exciting explorations of pattern and color.
Learn more about Harwell Godfrey Jewelry online at harwellgodfrey.com.
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