For The Zing Report contributor Amy Elliott, this year’s NYC Jewelry Week had to be a one-day-only affair. So, she made the most of her visit, dashing from one appointment and panel discussion to the next, and keeping a diary of her adventures along the way. Enjoy her recap of the most memorable people, events, and jewelry she encountered along the way:
7:58 a.m. West Haven, Conn.
NYCJW here I come! To make my first appointment, I have to take an 8 a.m. train from West Haven, Conn. The station is a 40-minute drive south of where I live so I was up before the sun!
Not pictured: My Adidas Superstars so that I can dash between appointments without killing my feet.
10:30 a.m. Verdura salon, Fifth Avenue @ 58th Street
It’s been a while since I’ve visited this cushy space (or its adjacent Belperron chambers) and it’s wonderful to be back. There’s breakfast and a presentation, but I have an 11 a.m. straight across town and ask for a speed-round review of the latest and greatest (after a brief tour of some historic pieces, including Coco Chanel’s Maltese cuffs and Betsy Whitney’s gold feather tiara designed by Fulco Di Verdura in 1957 and recently worn by Hamish Bowles at the 2022 Met Gala). There are albums of gouache renderings of custom projects in progress that borrow their elements from archival works. And mounds of cabochon gemstones glinting from glass cases in a spectacular show of Holiday 2023 newness. Details in the caption below.
Clockwise from top left: I skipped the breakfast spread because of my Celiac disease but it sure looked pretty (and I’d already had a beer pitcher’s worth of coffee before even getting off the train). Mosaic ring with emeralds and an orange zircon. The day’s undeniable highlight: the Stardust bracelet set with 237.71 cts. t.w. Columbian emeralds. Mademoiselle’s white enamel Maltese cross cuffs set with multicolored gemstones. X bracelet with 67.85 cts. t.w. rubellites in the perfect shade of raspberry-pink.
11:00 a.m. “Lab-Grown Diamonds: Reshaping the Luxury Jewelry Industry,” Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), Columbus Circle
As the author of Bejeweled, the first book documenting how consumer demand for sustainable and ethically produced jewels is reforming the jewelry industry, Kyle Roderick is the perfect moderator for this panel, which breaks down a topic you think you already know about but clearly is a moving target with developments here, there, and everywhere. News to me: SCS Global Services is like the USDA of the jewelry industry. If a lab-grown company wants to say that they are a more sustainable choice, they need to have a third-party accreditation to legitimize the claim to gain consumer confidence. We are getting to a point where lab-grown companies who don’t have the accreditation are going to stand out as sketchy. Meylor Global and WD Diamonds are walking the walk (and check out the former’s bio resin range).
From left: Avi Levy, director of North American operations, IGI; Josephine Silla-Afuwape of SCS Global Services; Roderick; Brittany Lewis of W.D. Diamonds; and Yuliiya Kusher of Meylor Global.
12:15 p.m. Donna Distefano showroom visit, Starrett-Lehigh Building
Here, I get a sneak peek of the new Toys collection, created in collaboration between the designer and Aerosmith (with Joe Perry, a big jewelry fan and longtime Distefano collaborator, manning the plane). It’s a limited-edition charm bracelet and necklace series based on imagery from the band’s seminal Toys in the Attic album from 1975 timed to coincide with the band’s 50th anniversary. To further honor that milestone, the final performances of their Las Vegas Residency at the Park MGM are happening Dec. 2, 5, 8, and 11. So much to love here, especially if you’re a 1970s kid! Here’s more from my visit with Donna on Instagram.
Clockwise from top left: Dandy Cat big and small in sterling silver. Designer Distefano shows off her “Toys.” Artist Tom Zimmerman created mixed-media renderings of the Toys in the Attic cast of characters that Distefano and her team transformed into jewelry.
1:30 p.m. “Female Forces-A Panel of Remarkable Women,” MAD
I arrive late to this panel and grab a seat in the back. Moderated by leading jewelry journalist Jill Newman, it gathers designers Keri Ataumbi, Jacqueline Rabun, Sabine Roemer, and Nina Runsdorf, who have all found their way to jewelry by taking different paths. Collectively, they prove there’s no one way to have a successful business, even when honesty, integrity, passion, and drive are the shared components. Their origin stories are fascinating. I’m somewhat in disbelief that Roemer hasn’t been on my radar when she casually mentions her having produced commissions for Nelson Mandela, and an incredible gold corset for a Ralph & Russo gown worn by Angelina Jolie to the European premiere of “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” Hello, new friend!
From left: Newman, Ataumbi, Rabun, Runsdorf and Roemer
2:00 Lunch break, Le Pain Quotidien, Columbus Circle
Jen Cullen Williams, jewelry marketing and communications pro par excellence, spotted me at the Lab Grown panel and we hatched a late lunch plan via text for when the Female Forces panel was over. Luckily, I know there’s a Le Pain Quotidien across the street and we have a long overdue catch-up. Story idea brainstorms with her, especially when centered on the jewelry trade, are the absolutely best way to enjoy a cup of coffee!
Jen Cullen Williams (left) and yours truly
3 p.m. “Fashion & Jewelry: A Love Story,” MAD
Great conversation moderated by Rachel Glicksberg, journalist and women’s fashion & new initiatives manager at TheRealReal and incredible visual aids highlighting the work of the panelists: Tchesmeni Leonard, senior fashion editor at Condé Nast where she is responsible for the fashion direction for Allure, Glamour, and Teen Vogue; David Aliperti, consultant designer for fashion jewelry at Oscar de la Renta and head of accessories at Collina Strada; jewelry designer Presley Oldham, and contemporary jewelry artist Georgina Trevino. Some takeaways from this discussion on the intersection of fashion and jewelry: If you want guy-friendly pearls, Oldham is your person (and is the nephew of one Todd Oldham). Trevino once made a handbag from a smashed can of tomatoes. Aliperti could be on reality TV (he’s that funny and facile with a witty turn of phrase). I leave contemplating if what he says constitutes a shift in how we’re dressing, composing looks that “emotionally reflect our narratives” in lieu of the old goal to be “Instagram-ready.”
From left: Glicksberg; Leonard; Oldham; Trevino; and Aliperti
4 p.m. Harakh unveiling, Bloomingdale’s, Lexington Ave at 59th Street
Mumbai-based designer Harakh Mehta of Harakh is in town to unveil an important suite of diamond jewels in honor of Bloomingdale’s 150th anniversary. I somehow remember that there is an N-R-W stop at West 57th St. and 7th Ave. that will drop me at East 59th Street where there’s an entrance to the department store from inside the subway station. Off I go to arrive at the very beautifully appointed Registry events space on the 7th floor—the whole thing looks a million times better than when I was registering for china there eight or so years ago! While I can’t stay long enough to catch the actual unveiling, I do get a private showing of the necklace, bracelet and earrings that altogether weigh a total of 150 carats.
Harakh takes Manhattan! The necklace comprises a total of 300 brilliant and rose cut diamonds in round, pear, marquise, and oval shapes weighing 100 cts. t.w. The matching cluster earrings are 18 cts. t.w. and the bracelet is 32 cts. t.w.
5 p.m. Meditations on Modernism at Mahnaz Collection, Madison Ave at 60th Street
A few blocks west and I’m very happy indeed to land in Mahnaz Collection’s gallery space on Madison Avenue where guests have gathered for an intimate conversation with acclaimed jewelry artist Jacqueline Rabun. The Georg Jensen alum (she worked there for 22 years) also designs an eponymous line that is revered for its elevated concepts and elegantly simple forms. Trays of her most celebrated works are passed around the room as she and Mahnaz Ispahani talk as old friends about Rabun’s origin story, design sensibility, and how she fits into the canon of great Nordic female jewelry designers.
Ispahani (left) talks with Rabun and invites questions from the audience. Select pieces are on view and for sale during NYJW, including her iconic Cave cocktail ring.
6 p.m. Julie Lamb open house, W. 48th Street at Sixth Ave.
Last stop before I head back to Connecticut: swinging by designer Julie Lamb’s studio to see her New York City-themed engagement ring collection, Built for Love. The architecture of key NYC landmarks are her muses, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Chrysler Building. There’s even one called the Classic Five, inspired by a certain pre-war apartment layout that can be found in abundance in the Big Apple.
Julie Lamb in her showroom; the Empire engagement ring, inspired by the Empire State Building
It’s raining as I walk back to Grand Central Station and my Hermès scarf has migrated from my neck to my head a la Queen Elizabeth II in the countryside (because I’ve left my umbrella at home). I may have miles to go before I sleep but I also have a million sparkly memories (and photos) to keep me company on my journey.
Top: That’s not my hand, it’s Sabine Roemer’s, modeling her Camel ring, a beloved design from her personal collection that she referred to throughout the talk “Female Forces.” The jewel was inspired by a vintage Hermès equestrian-themed scarf and Princess Parizade, a character from Arabian Nights. All images by @aelliott718
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