As a freshman enrolled in an introductory jewelry making class at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Monika Krol remembers falling in love with “making intimate little objects, surrounded by the tools and sounds of the studio,” she says. Krol intended to major in photography, until her professor, Chris Darway, inspected one of her projects and told Krol what she already knew: that she was destined to be a jeweler. “Hearing it out loud solidified what I was feeling, and I changed course,” she says.
That path led to Krol unveiling her own namesake line in 2014, after working alongside fellow jeweler Lola Brooks (who had also served as Krol’s professor at University of the Arts). “It was while working for Lola Brooks that I fell in love with materials, setting her large incredible gemstones in luscious 18k yellow gold,” says the central Pennsylvania-based Krol, who also worked briefly for Gabriella Kiss, setting stones into her signature scalloped stacking rings and earrings. (“It was an amazing experience working for both these incredibly talented jewelers,” she says of her celebrated mentors, who also happen to be August favorites.)
Over the years, Krol has honed in on her own distinctive style: think simple, clean designs with an emphasis on gemstones, peppered with hints of vintage details such as bails reminiscent of watch fobs. Signature pieces include earrings with bezel-set gemstones on hinged ear wires and chunky cast rings epitomize that aesthetic.
But the final products aren’t entirely dictated by Krol, she says. Ultimately, “the gemstones determine what piece they are made into. Sometimes it takes years for me to realize what a gem needs to be made into,” says Krol, who often leaves stones including dark green sapphires, lavender opals and aquamarines on her bench for weeks, waiting for inspiration to strike. Antique jewelry and heirlooms also serves as muses for the arts, whose own most treasured piece of jewelry is an antique, hand-engraved love token pendant gifted to Krol by her husband on their honeymoon.
“I love perfection and the challenge of building bezel settings, especially for angled stones,” says Krol, who abides by the philosophy of simple elegance and layering with her pieces. “I’m a meticulous maker.”