Julie Lamb has been creating jewelry for over a decade for clients and companies including Avon, but officially launched her fine jewelry brand, Julie Lamb NYC, in 2015. So, when she recently accepted Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award in New York City, she joked that she was accepting “the lifetime achievement award for jewelry design.”
But the award made sense—Lamb’s legacy in jewelry is still being written. We caught up with her just after the FGI ceremony to chat about the award, and her future plans for the brand.
The Zing Report: Congratulations on your award! Was this the first time you were nominated for an award for your work?
Julie Lamb: Thank you! No, I was nominated for this same award back when I was designing jewelry for Avon; our VP Sally Haigh Alex nominated me. I didn’t have a portfolio. I worked full-time in corporate design. On Tuesday, Sally was at my table to cheer me on, so that was a full-circle moment! And in 2018 I was awarded 2nd place in MJSA’s Vision Awards Design Competition.
How did you find out you were being nominated?
I found out about my nomination through my good friend, stylist Nolan Meader, who was freelancing for Ana Martins Public Relations. Ana is on FGI’s board, and she nominated me.
Tell me a bit about how you started your brand.
I’m a career jewelry designer, beginning at 19 running errands on 47th St. I still do business with some of the first people I met. After graduating from Syracuse with a BFA in Metalsmithing, I worked across the industry from fashion to fine jewelry before starting my eponymous line. I also quipped in my speech, ‘tens of thousands of SKUs later, it feels like a lifetime!’
What drew you to the jewelry business?
I’ve made jewelry ever since I can remember and got serious about it after class while attending the High School of Art & Design in Midtown NYC. During college summer break, I worked with local jewelers and started making connections. My first full-time job after graduation was with Erickson Beamon.
What’s the 5-year plan for your brand?
I believe my lovable Lamb logo-centric collection ‘Be Ewe’ has legs. I’d like to see this niche market sold internationally, starting with places big on sheep and wool—think Australia, New Zealand, the UK, etc. Maybe Michael Hill will take my appointment now?! Jewelry first, but a lifestyle brand to follow. I’m already speaking with Bulova regarding watches and Oliver Smith & Co. for stationery and gifts. Besides that, I’ll drop new themed tokens. I’ve also got a great idea for bridal and will continue with bespoke.
How do you think the award will affect your business?
With this level of recognition from Fashion Group International and the press that follows, I expect the Rising Star award to add to my credibility. It will remind people that I’m here, designing and building my business. To network with this crowd is such a privilege. New connections bring fresh eyes and ideas, hopefully opening doors to new opportunities.
Let’s talk about your clever NYC token necklaces and manhole cover pieces. How did those come about? Any other NYC-centric you plan to explore?
The manhole cover came first from a New York Times magazine cover circa 2007 featuring a gilded sewer cap illustrating rising real estate prices. Next, I redesigned tokens through the decades, adding playful messaging and stones. They speak to my love for this constantly evolving city that provides endless inspiration. They’re New York nostalgia and the best souvenirs for anyone anywhere who has a NY story. I’d like to add more all-gender styles using the tag #unisexy
What materials, stones, themes, etc., would you use to make a fantasy piece of jewelry if price wasn’t a concern?
I’d go back to some of the pieces I started making in college—large-scale statement rings that were architectural, small cityscapes. I love mixed media and precision: anodized colors, custom-cut stone components, glass enamel, and movement. Think Hemerele meets Calder. Conceptual pieces interest me. I’d love to build an NFT into a collection. I’m most interested in things I can imagine and haven’t seen before. —Roxanne Robinson