New York City—the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” to borrow Jay-Z’s poetic description—has been a constant source of inspiration for designer Maral Artinian, founder and creative director of the Marli New York fine jewelry brand, since she moved to the Big Apple in 2013.
Marli’s latest collection, simply called Empire, recalls the celebrated skyscraper of the same name, among other Manhattan hallmarks.
We caught up with Artinian at her flagship Hudson Yards boutique a few hours before she hosted a dinner to fete the launch of the new collection. She explained that, “Art Deco, architecture, and Modernism always inspire Marli. It’s [about] taking the old and making it new. The whole city inspires the Empire collection, but the Empire State Building is the closest link architecturally.”
The new collection features oblong hexagonal links and settings that support and decorate a circular pave pendant, with a semi-hexagon groove trim on the orb that recalls a gear. An especially unique feature of the round pendant is the raised wave effect of the pavè that gradually shrinks in size as it tapers inward to an inset hexagon pavè setting. The element is in part a nod to New York’s industrial past.
The circle and other design elements in the collection also answer the call of “women who want versatility and comfort,” the designer said. “Our outfits here go from day to night, and the jewelry pieces are easy to wear, like grab it and go.”
Culturally the circle also references the energy of the Big Apple. “We are running out of time here; there is no beginning or end of time in New York City. You don’t know when you are awake or asleep here. Even when sleeping, you are energizing and waking up to get back up and go out again,” she offered, referencing another famous Manhattan descriptor: “the city that never sleeps.”
Artinian developed a passion and skill for jewelry through her Armenian family, whose expertise in the craft spans several decades and continents. As a child, she recalled spending time in her father’s jewelry store in Damascus, and later traveling with her uncle to Antwerp to learn about gemstones and gem commerce. She picked up the mantle for herself and her family, helping to develop the family’s business in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
Currently, she’s in the midst of big plans. After opening her New York store in September 2021, she debuted a store in Paris and a shop-in-shop in Harrod’s in London. Next up is Geneva, where the brand will open a shop and headquarters to support its branch out into timepieces. All in just nine years—an impressive start for a small brand.
“Ten years is long, but also short in the jewelry industry,” Artinian said. “It takes time to develop and engrave it in the consumer’s mind.” With her unique point of view and modern, wearable styles, Artinian is clocked to succeed in a New York minute.