The jewelry brand Annika Inez is based in Brooklyn, but its sleek aesthetic seems rooted in the sensibility of a city that is nearly 4,000 miles away: Malmo, Sweden, where the collection’s founder, Annika Inez Wikstrom, was born and raised.
“Maybe it is the Scandinavian simplicity,” she said of her brand’s unfussy but assertive look. She was speaking by phone from Malmo, appropriately enough, during a visit there last month. “I feel like when I’m designing, I’m always trying to reduce, reduce, reduce but still keep an identity in it.”
Her sculptural pieces — rendered mostly in silver, frequently plated with 14-karat gold but occasionally 10 karat — often tweak conventional shapes to make them distinctive.
Consider, for example, the Heart collection, the brand’s best seller, that includes rings, necklaces, earrings and brooches. Ms. Inez Wikstrom’s version of the ubiquitous symbol of love is puffy, with a smooth silhouette. Unlike a more traditional jewelry heart — which is often, as she put it, “so cute-ified” — she wanted a shape that was “feminine and beautiful and soft and represent all the warm and fuzzy feelings, but still be super clean.”
As Tanika Wisdom, a senior buyer at Matches, said, “They’re not the kitsch hearts; they’re more for the modern-day woman.” Matches has carried the brand for about a year, she said, and for the past six months it has been among the top five sellers in the retailer’s fashion jewelry category, which groups pieces that are not solid gold.
Annika Inez also features a collection called Cravat, with pieces in silver and gold plate that resemble floppy fabric bows and were inspired, in part, by online directions on tying a bow tie. Ms. Inez Wikstrom said she perfected the designs by folding thin sheets of bubble gum pink wax into the shapes.
The pieces in her Serpent collection, which includes an open collar and a cuff bracelet, have a curved detail that suggests the outline of a snake’s head rather than a faithful depiction. (Its streamlined curves bring to mind Georg Jensen, another Scandinavian brand.) And her Rolling Stone ring has a center ball in frost quartz or green amethyst that can spin, a kind of elevated fidget alternative.
Prices range from $145 for a small silver Heart necklace to $795 for a pair of chunky hinged hoop earrings in 10-karat gold.
“I get really irritated with brands that are incredibly overpriced,” said Ms. Inez Wikstrom, 51. After all, she noted: “It doesn’t have to be at the highest price range in order to be a good design and a good product.”
While she would not disclose revenue figures, she said the brand’s sales for the first six months of 2023 exceeded those for all of 2022.
Jane Collins, a senior strategist at the trend forecasting company WGSN, said the brand “really hits that sweet spot of demi-fine pricing that consumers are willing to pay, especially when it comes to self-purchasing. It’s that whole idea of making a statement, but without costing the earth.”
Later this year the brand expects to add a carved collar in bottle-green jasper with rust-color flecks that it intends to price at about $400, as well as a handbag detailed with a piece of the same stone that may cost twice as much. “I feel comfortable having items that are a little bit more expensive because of how they’re made and the materials that we use,” Ms. Inez Wikstrom said.
The designer and her three-person staff are based near the Brooklyn Navy Yard in a small walk-up building that houses a cluster of studios; her neighbors include a tattoo artist and a recording engineer. (She lives a short walk away, in the Clinton Hill neighborhood, with her 16-year-old daughter.) The brand, which was introduced in 2019, is carried by retailers like the MoMA Design Store and Assembly New York in the United States, Liberty London in England, Beams and Tomorrowland in Japan, and Chicun and FilterBoutique in China. Nordstrom said it will begin carrying the brand on its website in October, and Ms. Inez Wikstrom said Selfridges plans to carry it this fall as well.
The bulk of the collection is made in India, by factories whose operations have been certified as sustainable by the Responsible Jewellery Council, with some items produced locally and in upstate New York.
Ms. Inez Wikstrom has lived in New York City, mostly in Brooklyn, for more than two decades, although her English is still glazed with a Swedish accent. She grew up in a stylish household — her mother and paternal grandmother were designers in Sweden, and her parents, when she was quite young, ran a women’s clothing store in Malmo.
She moved to New York in 1995 and soon began studying at Parsons School of Design, but left before graduating. Within several years, she had married — she’s now divorced — and started running a store in Manhattan with her then-husband; it was called Annika Inez, and carried Ms. Inez Wikstrom’s jewelry along with new and vintage accessories from other brands.
In 2005, the couple started By Boe, a jewelry brand that Ms. Inez Wikstrom designed, which was a bit more delicate than her current designs. She introduced the current iteration of Annika Inez in 2019.
Ms. Inez Wikstrom said she likes seeing how different customers integrate her creations into their own looks. “It’s almost like, you design it, and that is 75 percent of what it is, but the other 25 percent has to be the wearer,” she said. “They complete it by wearing it.”