It’s not every day that you come across a woman who bills herself as an equestrian jeweler, but then again, there are many facets of Karina Brez that are out of the ordinary.
Though based in Florida and displaying her designs during the show circuit in Wellington, Brez is also a familiar face in the Northeast.
Her horse-themed necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets have caught many an eye — including a WAG editor’s — when she’s showcased her work during the American Gold Cup at Old Salem Farm in North Salem.
Brez, also a regular at The Hampton Classic Horse Show, has a reach and recognition that extends beyond the equestrian circuit.
A gemologist who studied at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Brez is a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers and is the CEO of Palm Beach Gemologist LLC.
“I was one of the youngest to go to GIA,” she says of her start at 17. “I had to have my parents sign off on it.”
It’s not surprising they did, as the family has a three-generation history in jewelry. As Brez notes, she “grew up in the industry.”
Brez came from Ukraine to America as an infant, her family eventually settling in South Florida, where her parents run a jewelry business.
For a time, Brez was planning to study luxury fashion design in London but opted to stay in Wellington and help in the family business before launching her own appraisal company.
Brez, who was Miss Florida USA in 2012 and went on to compete in the Miss USA pageant, says that her national appearance actually sparked her career direction.
Wearing a sparkling evening gown of her own design drew many compliments, she says.
“All the girls at the pageant were like, ‘Why don’t you do a whole line of jewelry?’”
So she did, launching a couture collection in 2012, custom designs accented with exotic gems from around the world — many sourced herself. One day Brez might be at a gem show in Tucson, Ariz., another heading to Colombia to seek out emeralds.
Throughout her life, Brez says, horses were somehow in the picture — not surprising for someone who lives in Wellington.
“I love horses. I’ve always loved horses, since I was a little girl. I have an obsession,” she says.
Though she didn’t ride as a child, Brez said she always knew horses would be in her life.
“I put two and two together, the equestrian and the jewelry.”
Today, Brez offers a number of pieces through her Horse LUV Collection, from her signature necklace in 18kt white gold and diamonds ($4,400) to a ring in 18kt rose gold and diamonds ($1,200). The new Huggable Hooves line features a ring in 18kt white gold and diamonds ($1,250).
Beyond the equestrian realm, Brez’s creations touch on themes that include the floral and the nautical.
Much of her work is devoted to creating one-of-a-kind pieces.
“I like to be a little more exclusive with my designs.”
Often, she begins with a sketch, before advancing to 3-D computer design, “so I can actually wrap my head around it.”
The materials are key.
“I work around the stones sometimes. You might find the most beautiful sapphire,” she says by example. “I love diamonds. I love big stones.”
All of her designs, she says, are made “in house,” with her father heading up the manufacturing.
Karina Brez Jewelry, she says, is designed to be wearable — and versatile.
“You could wear it to a lovely brunch at the polo club or on a boat, then transition to wearing it at night.”
She’s also aware of creating work that transcends trends.
“For me, the pieces I design have to be timeless,” she says.
Brez, whose designs appeal to women of all ages, continues to expand.
“Just recently, this year, I launched my men’s collection.”
For Brez, all the elements of her life flow together.
Her time as Miss Florida USA, which sometimes found her attending five events in one day, gave her more than just exposure, fine-tuning her already strong discipline.
“You have to dress. You have to always be on point,” she says.
And, as many a pageant participant before her, Brez has a sweet spot for charitable endeavors and serves as ambassador and honorary chairwoman of Horses Healing Hearts. The Wellington-based nonprofit is designed to serve children in families affected by substance abuse, helping them develop a sense of empowerment, life-coping skills and self-confidence by learning about horse care and riding.
And these days, Brez does enjoy riding — but she’s not among those competing in the Winter Equestrian Festival.
“I’m not at that level,” she says with a laugh before adding, “but I am learning to be a jumper.”
And we’re sure she’ll succeed at this new endeavor as well.
For more, visit karinabrez.com.