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How CiViL Jewelry CEO Blakely Thornton is redefining luxury

Stepping off the elevator of a classic SoHo building off-Broadway and I entered an austere hallway several stories above the ground floor.  To the left, I saw an opening in the wall and while walking through it, I am consumed by the large studio-style office of Jerry Media.

This is where Blakely Thornton operates as a marketer for the famous, Fuck Jerry, and as CiViL Jewelry CEO, his vision for a luxury brand that everyone can participate in.

Busily buzzing, Blakely found time out of his hectic day to sit down with the Hub. Flying back and forth through the office, the CiViL Jewelry CEO finally sat on the couch for our discussion.

Pure Adolescence

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Photo Cred: Cassell Ferere

Blakely is naturally energized by his daily task conducting business. And as a queer kid from Dallas, he found his way to the big apple in search of a bigger outlet to the world and as a catalyst for minorities with dreams.

Thornton studied finance in at U. Penn where he also played football and was your typical A-type. His prep school days may have shaped him up to be this way, but in particular, Blakely was just one to stand out so he was tuned to the nuances of marketing.

Being a black kid at a Dallas Prep school was evident to his peers but also being a queer kid made more of an impact socially. He was the first gay person for a lot of his fellow students and one who “wasn’t sassy,” as Blakely puts it.

The lack of diversity informed his urge to see minorities in power at brands and tech companies, as decision-makers. As he grew, learning the markup on jewelry and a yearning to democratize luxury, Blakely sought to invest in people of color who are underrepresented.

The Building Blocks

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Photo Cred: Cassell Ferere

Blakely’s experience at Fuck Jerry helped him understand how an agency works, branding and content creation.

There he saw how an audience can be monetized and distributed. He also worked at Ralph Lauren where he learned the details associated with the luxury market, from shoes and bags to fine watches made in Switzerland.

Ultimately he learned to market brands to people and elicit a reaction.

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Photo Cred: Cassell Ferere (This item is not yet for sale)

His new role as Founder and CiViL Jewelry CEO is the synergy of all his previous professional lives. And knowing what he does is what is pushing CiViL forward in 2020.

A Civil Mission

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Photo Cred: Cassell Ferere

CiViL Jewelry is “authentic and can be reinvented,” Blakely said. As he shifted his jewelry to display the logo, He continued,

“It’s modern, crisp, clean, cool, ubiquitous and utilitarian.”


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A post shared by CIVIL Jewelry (@becivil) on Sep 17, 2019 at 11:19am PDT

The CiviL brand’s mission was to fill the hole in the fine jewelry industry for black and brown owned companies. Similar to how Rihanna started Fenty after being sponsored by LVMH, Blakely convinced himself to start the company only to find the process involves perpetual failures against any wins.

Thornton described the initial journey as,

“Fourteen good hours in a workday is better than trying to work 20 hours and four hours of sleep.”

Changing Yourself to Change the Game


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A post shared by CIVIL Jewelry (@becivil) on Sep 10, 2019 at 2:59pm PDT

Blakely became more malleable to his situation and adopted the changes in his life. He desired a semblance of work-life balance as his own boss.

Thornton doubts himself every day but perseveres just by remaining busy in his business. Keeping that same energy, Blakely synthesizes constructive criticism and ultimately course corrects himself toward success and style.

Luxury In Black and Brown

“Style is inherently about confidence,” Blakely mentioned. he added,

“Jewelry is about brand value and equality. And that’s what CiViL is.”

Buying into Tiffany or Cartier as luxury is considered the norm. Blakely asked, “Why can’t luxury be associated with black or brown people of color?”

Normally when people think luxury or brand value people often think white or European. CiViL is countering that thought process and ever-evening the playing field.

With jewelry priced under $100 up to “price upon request,” to say that luxury is “CiviL” is the highest compliment for Blakely.


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A post shared by CIVIL Jewelry (@becivil) on Sep 11, 2019 at 2:49pm PDT

“It’s about time that we had something to embrace – inherit black dopeness.”

The laces are inherently streetwear-inspired from the basketball and sneaker culture, which is rooted in black culture.


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Photo Cred: Cassell Ferere

“Laces were something Slick (Woods) and I went back and forth on,” mentioned the CiViL Jewelry CEO. It’s evident that these accessories are stretching the idea of luxury into the neighborhoods where urban cultures thrive.

And this thoughtless act of leaving shoes untied as oppose to lacing them up traditionally has played a part in defining style for those who are a product of that environment.


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A post shared by CIVIL Jewelry (@becivil) on Sep 12, 2019 at 3:28pm PDT

But Make It Your Own

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Photo Cred: Cassell Ferere

Confidence is the main thing Blakely stresses when defining his style. Add in a lot of passion for what you do and he has the formula for the next generation to make moves on such a level.

“Don’t create something to think about selling it down the line. Create something you’d be happy doing for the rest of your life. If you love what you do you going to work every fucking day of your life but you’ll love it…”

The CiViL Jewelry CEO continued,

“Don’t try to be the next Yeezy or the next LVMH. Try to be the next you – you are what people have not seen before.”

Problem Solving

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Photo Cred: Cassell Ferere

Blakely has been working closely with a lab to grow carbonated diamonds for societal and environmental justifications.

The collaboration involves extracting carbon from the air and compressing it into a diamond quality stone. He mentions that diamonds are of perceived value and hoarded by industry leaders, and digresses to the fact that the diamond industry is “built at the expense of largely black occupied ecosystems and black bodies.”

Thus he is reluctant to partake in the diamond trade as an ethical choice. Blakely hasn’t solved the problem but he explains his love of having a voice in trying to find the solutions to the issues that disrupt society and civilizations.

Look out for this article on PAGE magazine.