Meet Martine: NYC’s Sterling Jewellery Designer

Brooklyn-born, Martine Ali has gained a gleaming reputation for her carefully crafted and curated jewellery pieces.

From the DAMN tour to Teen Vogue; Her sterling silver chains have been making major moves, and even gained her a wildly anticipated collaboration with Converse. We chat with Martine about her early influences, antique scoring tips and tricks and the evolution of the self-titled brand. 

"Brooklyn designer Martine Ali creates iconic chain-based silver jewellery and accessories reminiscent of 90s era grunge and hip-hop culture."

ELISE: We are so excited to be working together. I think It is crucial to begin with an understanding of your influences! Tell us something about you that we wouldn't expect.


MARTINE: I am goofy, or maybe you expected that


ELISE: So, what made you get into jewellery in the first place?


MARTINE: I wanted to materialise all of the things in my head into a reality, the jewellery pieces that I needed to accent my looks. I think I was 6 or 7, at that time.

Martine Ali for Highsnobiety by Photographer Bijan Sosnowski
Martine Ali for Highsnobiety by Photographer Bijan Sosnowski
Martine Ali for Highsnobiety by Photographer Bijan Sosnowski
Martine Ali for Highsnobiety by Photographer Bijan Sosnowski

“I am goofy, or maybe you expected that”

ELISE: There is a make-it-and-mend-it, interchangeable identity to many of the pieces in your most recent collection. How have you found a gap for this within high-end retail?


MARTINE: I think we all want to feel elevated and intentional with the way we dress. I think there's an awareness never to come off as if you're trying too hard. I like to walk this line with my jewellery by offering a casual cool element that subtly exists in the details.


ELISE: In correspondence to my last question. What multifunctions do some of the jewellery pieces have and how have you styled them?


MARTINE: Each piece is meant to stand on its own but is so much more fun when It has other items from the collection to relate to. For example, rings can become pendants, dangling from your favourite chain. Two bracelets can become a choker, or one bracelet can be attached to a necklace for a longer look.

“I think we all want to feel elevated, and intentional with the way we dress to some extent”

Martine Ali for Highsnobiety by Photographer Bijan Sosnowski
Martine Ali for Highsnobiety by Photographer Bijan Sosnowski

ELISE: Despite bespoke jewellery pieces, what are 3 other accessory pieces you could not live without and why?


MARTINE: I always need rings, otherwise I feel naked. For whatever reason I need a pinky ring, and one for the other hand to balance it all out. I also have one bracelet on at all times, and then I'll alternate between a few of my favourite thinner necklaces. I feel like I'm somehow safer, or more magical with my armour on.


ELISE: Give an example of a creative muse. Who would be your dream collaborator, and what would you create?


MARTINE: Martine Rose is a big creative muse. I think she does an excellent job of marrying luxury with day-to-day elements of life and personal style. Her clothing makes you feel dressed up and dressed down. I would love to explore the way that jewellery can unlock through nostalgia through this lens.

“I feel like I'm somehow safer, or more magical with my armour on.”

ELISE: I found it incredibly powerful to read about your childhood experiences of shopping trips with your mother. Do you believe that the magpie-like-tendencies you have built your brand on are influenced by the forces of nature or nurture?


MARTINE: I feel it's got to have been a bit of both but probably more nurture. My mother was constantly encouraging me to create, and then sell. There was an obvious connection between my creativity and commerce. I think if it hadn't been for her encouragement, I might have been too afraid to start my own thing. I may have made all these cool and amazing things but actually not end up sharing them.


ELISE: Do you have any tips for scoring the best antique jewellery and what should we be looking out for?


MARTINE: Look for stamps and markings on the inside. This is usually the marking or signature of some significance.

Martine Ali for Highsnobiety by Photographer Bijan Sosnowski
Martine Ali for Highsnobiety by Photographer Bijan Sosnowski

"My mother was constantly encouraging me to create, and then sell my jewellery.”

ELISE: You have previously discussed the precious and delicate nature of gold metal and your choice to use silver metal within your designs. What do you believe has influenced the resurgence of silver metals and everyday minimalism?


MARTINE: I think silver isn't just back, I truly think it's here to stay. Silver completely embodies a whole energy that's needed, it's cool and strong and bold and can really only be expressed in silver.


ELISE: Where do you see your brand moving within the next few years? Are there any other career goals and milestones you would like to focus on next?


MARTINE: The way that one small thing can represent a huge emotion or huge space in your life is completely fascinating to me. How one necklace can set off your entire look, how one pair of shoes can make you feel powerful or sexy. As an artist I'm very interested in exploring how and where this happens, in jewellery, but also in other products such as shoes or even clothing.

Words - Elise-Mai Duffy