They aren’t bamboo earrings (at least two pair), but jewelry designer Simone I. Smith (wife of James Todd Smith, also known as LL Cool J) recently launched a new collection with close friend and multihyphenate icon Mary J. Blige.
The collaboration is called Sister Love, a collection “inspired by friendship and sisterhood and a love for statement pieces,” according to Smith’s website, which also includes the statement:
We both support each other in everything we do. That includes the ways we can help each other grow from knowing the other’s strengths personally and professionally. We now get to experience a lot of firsts together and truly share in the vision and mission of our business, Sister Love.
Sister Love debuted at last weekend’s Essence Fest with the limited edition 18-karat gold-plated Queen Hoops earrings ($199.99). The collaboration is part of the Simone I. Smith Jewelry collection, which launched in 2011 with a single pendant and has now grown to include several signature collections including a large assortment of hoop earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings. The collections retail via Smith’s website, Macy’s and several boutiques and are worn by celebs like Niecy Nash, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Remy Ma, Missy Elliott and more.
Smith, an avowed accessories lover, who still owns the first pair of gold “door-knockers” her future husband gifted her as a teenager, initially started her line with the “A Sweet Touch of Hope” signature lollipop pendant, inspired by her battle with stage III Chondrosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. After a surgery which left the lollipop tattoo on her leg (inspired by LL’s song “Candy Girl”) looking as if it had been bitten, Smith designed the pendant, which, like the rest of her now seven-year-old-jewelry collection, donates a portion of proceeds from every sale to the ongoing fight against all forms of cancer.
“This disease affects so many people and so many families,” says Smith on her site. “I always knew that I wanted to do something to help and I feel very blessed to be able to do so.”
Aside from her survivor’s instinct, Blige credits Smith’s business acumen with encouraging her to put her name on a jewelry collection, as she explained:
What made me want to work with Simone is she already created an amazingly successful jewelry line and all the pieces are things that I love, and she also has an amazing fashion sense. I wanted to add to that by sharing some of my fashion sense with her and creating some things I dream about and I know other women are dreaming about.
But ultimately, Smith’s collaboration with Blige, which will expand to include more pieces that aim to represent “all facets of sisterhood—supportive, patient, and present” is inspired by the women’s friendship. Smith explains:
It’s an exhilarating and proud feeling to partner with my girl—a divine woman full of black girl magic. As women working together, it’s important to be able to adjust each other’s crowns, instead of tearing each other down. We are working together with this collaboration to celebrate our friendship and successes and empower others from our strength of supporting each other.
The Glow Up tip: You can purchase Queen Hoops online at SisterLoveMJB.com