Born in New York City, with roots in France, Cameroon and Sweden, Yelena Noah is a citizen of the world and her work is a reflection of her multi-cultural heritage. She started painting symbols at a very young age. These organically evolved onto linen and silk canvases, into ceramic and stone mosaics, and now into a precious jewelry collection.
As a successful model, Yelena’s lived between Paris and New York all her life. She graduated from the New School in New York with a Bachelors degree in Political science and International affairs. She has done workshops at the United Nations and is on the board of her family’s Noah’s Arc Foundation, created by her brother, Chicago Bulls NBA player, Joakim Noah.
Yelena believes in jewelry with a narrative. Her jewels carry the story of a journey, a place or moment in time, a family’s history, a personal memory or spiritual belief…She thinks of jewelry as a fundamental aspect of culture and a celebration of our diversity and individuality.
Yelena Noah Jewelry is entirely handmade and designed in her Williamsburg Loft. On her many travels, she finds the charms and stones that tell the stories of her pieces. Necklaces are made of antique brass beads from Cameroon, earrings carry amulets from Kenya, and pendants dangle local seeds from Suriname.
Charged with symbolism & meaning, every piece is founded on geometric principles while inspired by Buddhist mandalas and West African symbols, blending Scandinavian minimalism and tribal exuberance. Most of the designs begin with a center that expands into four cardinal directions, creating a type of compass. The focal point represents our “selves”. Within it lies intuition, the heart, and higher consciousness. From there stems four opposing directions. These directions and their relation to the center represents the need to strike a balance within the dualities of life; Good and evil, male and female, light and dark, life and death, the yin and the yang.
Yelena Noah goes beyond jewelry. She collaborated with women in South America on the preservation of indigenous cultures through artisan craftsmanship and continues to work to empower women and raise awareness through various development initiatives with Yelena Noah Jewelry. With her family foundation, the Noah’s Arc Foundation, She takes an active part in helping children achieve their full potential through sports and arts therapy.
In 2014, Yelena Noah joined Pamela Love and Pheobe and Annette Stephens of Anndra Neen at the Neue House for the talk “Land of El Dorado”, a cultural exchange about the country of Suriname. Over two years, these jewelry designers made several trips to Suriname with Everard Findlay. There, they met with the indigenous people of Suriname, peoples of the rainforest, Maroon women, Indonesian artists, and preservationists to foster a cultural exchange and to celebrate Suriname’s craftsmanship and the rich cultural diversity of the country with an international audience. Yelena created her “EPA” cuff inspired by the Maroon women, their heritage, and their story. The Maroons of Suriname are the descendants of escaped slaves in the Americas who formed independent settlements in remote areas.
In 2012, Yelena was approached by the brand Each x Other, a unisex and collaborative brand that invites Artists, designers and craftsmen to design models for their collections. Each x Other’s ethos is “Art meets Fashion.” Yelena’s drawings and prints were used to create clothing and was sold in high end stores in France and internationally, such as the cutting edge Smets in Bruxelles.