Aya, inspired by Davy’s homeland of Zimbabwe, makes its U.S. debut this month. Our writer joined Davy in Bodrum for a sneak peak.
Last month, I ran into Chelsy Davy after she’d stealthily crashed a wedding at Macakizi, Bodrum’s most enduring bastion of Aegean glamour.
She had slipped out of Gatwick with girlfriends Irene Forte and Olivia Perry, shedding her tabloid reputation as Prince Harry’s former girlfriend, for a spontaneous and anonymous weekend holiday–just another flock of swans idling on Turkbuku Bay. This was downtime to catch up and let loose before the 30-year-old Zimbabwean bohemian departed on an intercontinental journey to promote her new ethical jewelry company Aya. She will be presenting Tanzanite-studded 18-karat yellow gold tusks at a trade show in Las Vegas one week and speaking at Hong Kong’s Upper House on behalf of Gemfields, Aya’s favored purveyor of virtuously-sourced rubies and emeralds, the next.
This was not Davy’s first trip to Turkey. She had volunteered to move to Istanbul three years ago while working as an attorney at the London firm Allen & Overy. “In your final year training, you choose a satellite office, and I wanted to live and work somewhere that took me out of my comfort zone. I could have stayed if I hadn’t missed South Africa so much,” she recalls. Davy was so homesick for the continent of her birth that she resigned from the firm upon her return to London. Today, she spends six months a year in Zambia.
“I wanted to create something simple yet elegant–something African,” Davy says. “I designed this collection at a river house on the Zambezi, which is surrounded by elephants day and night, thus all the tusks.” The second collection will take inspiration from the brand’s namesake. Aya means “fern,” and is a West African symbol for endurance and resourcefulness.
Though Davy has left the law behind, her legal training proves invaluable every day, from incorporating her company to writing contracts with retailers. In fact, there’s no aspect of the business she hasn’t influenced. She’s recently become certified in colored stones by theGemological Institute of America, and she also handles social media for Aya. Posting to Instagram wasn’t the purpose of this Bodrum getaway, but since she has beautiful friends at her disposal, she chose to capitalize on the baggies of precious rings and necklaces she tucked away in her carryall, playing dress up with gems natural to her since she found her way into her grandmother’s jewelry box at a young age.
The next morning I find the threesome worshipping the sun, detoxifying from last night’s haze of smoke and spirits by engaging in a synchronized chaises longue-friendly abdominal workout, the latest app Davy’s downloaded to her iPhone. Moments later Davy and Perry spring the idea on Irene Forte (daughter of hotelier Rocco Forte) to play model for a day, starring in Aya’s Instagram feed as they boat across the peninsula, docking for an afternoon at the Mandarin Oriental’s new beach club, a summertime pop-up of Ibiza’s Blue Marlin, before boarding an easyJet back to the U.K.
Finally they succeed in begging Forte to submerge herself into chilly Paradise Bay, clad in little more than stacks of baubles and layers of necklaces. The sapphires shimmer, as Forte holds her chattering teeth into a seductive smile. There’s one thing Davy won’t do herself for Aya, but that’s what friends are for.