In 2007, Joanna Bengoa was working in finance and squeezing in time to hustle on her side project, a collection of eight delicate gold and silver rings, bracelets, and necklaces. It wasn’t the first time Joanna had to straddle radically different worlds—she grew up splitting her time between Spain and Japan before moving to New York alone at 18 to study business at NYU. Then, one big meeting changed everything.“I somehow got an order from Barneys when I was still working my full-time job,” she says. “I had to choose, so I quit to make that order.”
After that first flush of success, Joanna was still itching to learn more about precious metals and stones, so she studied for a degree from the Gemological Institute of America and then worked for an auction house as a fine-jewelry appraiser. She launched the current iteration of Nishi, which combines solid gold and silver with conflict-free diamonds, moody sapphires, and glowing pearls, in 2015. In keeping with her career story, she focuses on pieces worthy of a big time commitment. “I knew I wanted to make something that was symbolic,” Joanna explains “I love how jewelry can carry so much meaning even though it’s so small and portable.”
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