Designer Profile: Kathe Mai
If you love jewelry, chances are that you have already seen the designs of Kathe Mai. Only you didn’t know it. By design.
As the jewelry designer who created the signature style of Trigem Designs, the world’s largest supplier of brand-name gemstone jewelry, Kathe works to put the company’s exotic gems in the spotlight while remaining behind the scenes. Her jewelry is always designed to forge a personal connection between a gem and the woman who wears it, not a designer name.
“I work to create designs that are an expression of the woman who wears them, not of myself,” Kathe explains. “Jewelry is a personal thing and it’s important that it be organic, to fit like it was made for you. It must be wearable and versatile but at the same time make a singular statement unique to each woman.”
I design for a woman’s hand,” she says. “The shank is rounded so it fits comfortably in the crease of your finger. I often make one side of the ring higher than the other so it fits the profile of your palm, which isn’t symmetrical. Earrings are always mirror images of each other, so they frame your face. I think a woman designer thinks about jewelry differently because she wears it herself. It should feel as good as it looks.”
“I prefer large gemstones, with lots of brilliance, but I understand that there are customers who prefer a more delicate complement to their style. It’s not about imposing my vision, it’s about discovering the vision of the woman who will wear the piece.”
In the last 30 years, 15 as the head designer for Trigem Designs, Kathe Mai has created a staggering 12,000 individual pieces of jewelry, in the process creating a design vocabulary of clean lines, contemporary fluidity, and classic elegance, with the comfort and wearability that makes each piece destined to be a favorite.
In the process, her reputation has quietly grown. The anonymous designer has become known for creating some of the country’s most innovative colored gemstone jewelry.
Thanks to Trigem Designs and its gem mining and cutting parent Columbia Gem House, Kathe has the advantage of an unrivalled palette of gems to inspire her. The strength of her designs comes from her passion for these precious individual gifts from the earth.
“I am lucky to often be the first designer to be able to design a setting for a new gem find,” she says. “I love to explore different color combinations and different shapes: my designs always go in a surprising new direction in response to a new gem. Every one is different: the endless shades of color and geometry of shapes of the world of colored gemstones is a constant inspiration to me.”
Brilliant breathtaking gemstones with strong clean designs executed with impeccable workmanship with thought for every detail: these are the signatures of jewelry by Kathe Mai. You’ll recognize it when you put it on and discover it was meant for you.
“Every one is different: the endless shades of color and geometry of shapes of the world of colored gemstones is a constant inspiration to me.”