Haim Medine–purveyor of cheeky, cult-status fine jewelry for the perennially young at heart–is all grown up. The 28-year-old founder and designer of Khai Khai Jewelry has put a decidedly sophisticated spin on his new collection, bringing the paisley print to life with deep green tsavorites, diamonds and 18K yellow gold.
“The collection has definitely come a long way since inception,” says Medine, the older brother of The Man Repeller’s Leandre Medine. “I started out with the intention of putting jewelry out there that was a bit nontraditional; expressive of who I was at that point in time. As time went on, I matured and I can confidently say that my jewelry has matured as well. I still try to keep that element of whimsy in what I do but at the same time I want the jewelry to be a blend between timeless elegance and contemporary style.”
A graduate of George Washington University, Medine first flexed his muscles in real estate finance before joining the family business in 2006. His father, Mois Medine, is the founder of Mark Henry Alexandrite Jewelry Collection, a holding company that has been producing fine jewelry as well as mass-market wholesale pieces for nearly three decades. With this inherent appreciation jewelry making, Medine set out to bridge the gap between costume and fine jewelry through intricate yet whimsical pieces, using high quality natural stones. Though he has no formal training, the designer credits his success to hands-on experience and “learning from the many mistakes I’ve made along the way.”
Here, Medine takes us through the exotic inspiration for his playful new Paisley Collection–and his high hopes for making people smile through jewelry design.
I love the idea of bringing a fabric print–in this case, the paisley–to life through jewelry. Can you take us through the inspiration behind the collection?
A couple of years ago, right after I graduated college, I went on a long trip through Southeast Asia with a buddy of mine for one last hurrah before I would start my working life. We were on a small island in Thailand called Koh Phangan for their festive Full Moon Party, and that’s where I purchased this green bandana which I would end up wearing almost everyday for that entire month I was traveling. This trip was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life and that bandana serves as a reminder of those great times. When I’m designing jewelry I draw inspiration from many places but I find that usually the best creations come from experiences or memories that resonate with me. When I came up with the Paisley Collection I focused on this one shape taken from that bandana and attempted to recreate it in the form of jewelry. I chose to work with pear shape stones because they most closely resembled the shape of the paisley.
Why did you choose the deep green of tsavorites for the collection?
In order to do this in an authentic way, I try to source unique materials and draw inspiration from the depths of my own life. I used tsavorites because green is my favorite color.
When it’s all said and done, a lot of artists can create beautiful things but if we’re making this our livelihood it’s important that it will sell, so I want my jewelry to strike the same chords in the hearts of the women that wear it as it does mine.
Because people associate your jewelry with humor, whimsy and wit (your famous Gummy Bear and Coca Cola Bottle piece etc.), would you say this collection is more grown up, in a way?
It’s really just meant for anybody who wants to express themselves in a more colorful way. I never like to segregate my jewelry to a specific age group. I was just having fun and felt like this could translate well and bring smiles. I’ve loved Gummies since I was a kid and still find myself shoulder deep in candy bags to this day.
What is the best thing about making jewelry, for you? What do you love the most about it?
There’s nothing more gratifying than coming up with an idea and seeing it come to fruition the exact way you had envisioned. It’s also flattering when I see someone wearing one of my pieces and knowing that they share a passion for my passion.