nice article. I pinned a few images to my boards
The U.S.A. is a huge country, playing a leading role in the world of jewelry. And with a movie industry that outshines all other red carpet industries in the world. In the land of endless opportunities, there are so many exciting jewelry brands.
I have made my choice, based on how I look at jewelry. With a love for the eclectic, but with a love also for the classics and brands that have a history. I adore young jewelry designers and honor the ones that have proven their stability and shown their identity. Love to know which American Jewelry Brands are my favorites?
When I tell people I come from the Netherlands, it is Amsterdam and all that it stands for in people’s imagination, that springs to their mind. Amsterdam is not the Netherlands and does not represent all the Dutch. But we all fall for it. When you think, as a foreigner, about the United States and jewelry, it is the red carpet events, gaining so much (a little too much?) coverage and whilst this is an amazing marketing event, the U.S. jewelry world has a lot more variety than just spectacular celebrity jewelry only.
As I mentioned before, I create this list keeping in mind that there is more than one way to look at jewelry. It’s not just about the super high-end. Although in this list, there are hardly brands that work with the lower end (we will do a list with affordable, silver and fashion jewelry brands too, I promise!) this list isn’t just about big, bigger, biggest.
But one cannot make a list like this, and not mention the first one that springs in mind when you say America and Jewelry. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is simply too iconic!
So here is my list, in random order.
Tiffany & Co
Manya & Roumen
Daria de Koning
Matthew Campbell Laurenza
Garland’s Indian Jewelry
New York, 1837. A place of abundant growth and wonderful opportunities. It was the time that Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B.Young began their store. How could they have known that their company would grow so big and become one of the most famous names in jewelry today. Many events, awards and Blue Books later, here we are. The latest campaign by Tiffany & Co is with Lady Gaga. In order to win over Millennials, the company has taken various initiatives, because today, the youngest generation on the market is not immediately charmed by a company just because it has a rich history. There is a lot to say for that and a lot against that too.
If one would look at it and see a rich history as a proof of quality and durability over time, something that is very hard to achieve, one might overcome the idea that this is your classical Baby Boomers brand. Tiffany has a beautiful and rich collection of jewelry. Known for their engagement rings, but also for their fine jewelry and exquisite pieces.
I love how they have stayed true to themselves. Not all collections are my taste and there was a time that I had the faint idea that the company trusted a little too much on heritage and far too little about design and bringing new value to the table. Today that has changed. I love many of their pieces but I adore their latest Hardware collection. The promotion for this collection was styled by the ever lovely Grace Goddington and presented by the wonderful Lady Gaga. Paloma Picasso designed for years for the company and I loved her collection a lot.
1932, Harry Winston, a gemmologist and businessman, created the jewelry brand we know today. Did you know that he bought the most famous diamond in the world? The Hope diamond and donated it to the Smithsonian? If you like to know more about his collection of famous gemstones, check out the website or the Wikipedia page. Harry began his career when buying the jewelry collection of a very wealthy woman called Arabella Huntington. A huge collection that he, as history tells us, redesigned completely. Calling the Cartier and other pieces: old fashioned. Harry Winston today is still all about diamonds and gemstones, especially the classic three: emeralds, rubies and sapphires are the stones we see most in the collection. Harry Winston watches are also beloved.
If I read his history, this man seemed to have a keen eye for both quality jewelry and gems as much as he had for business. I like his bold approach and his no nonsense love for gemstones. Their jewelry isn’t the latest thrill, it is never following fashion, although it follows some of the trends in non outspoken way. I love the sheer beauty, but I think that it is the story behind the origins of the company that makes me smile the most. Harry Winston is an excellent choice for those who seek something timeless and very precious jewelry
You can find more about Manya & Roumen here! Manya is an artist, in every sense. Her husband Roumen is an info-economic professor and they share not just love but also a passion for animals. Something that we have in common. Manya is trained in different disciplines, but today she makes this sculpted jewelry that scream: I am pure art!
Easy! I love the animal jewelry theme. I also love their passionate approach and their down to earth mentality about life. These are people you wish lived closer and have long cup of coffee with, chatting about life, jewelry, art and more. The jewelry leaves little room for imagination. Mice, Sparrows, Goldfish...and the all too beautiful Graceful Chameleon Ring. If I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t know which one to choose! The jewelry is for those who love the artist, the artistic approach and the story of these lovely people. Highly recommended!
This company has not been run by the original creator for more than 3 decades now, but it has kept on the same path as it´s original designer. David Webb was created in 1948 when he was 23 years old. David Webb died in 1975, way too soon, leaving a patrimony of bold, colorful jewelry designs. His clients were the famous rich people of Hollywood, the Duke of Windsor and so on. Did you know that David Webb was a self taught jewelry designer?
I love the daring boldness of his designs. There is nothing modest about it. This kind of design is wonderful on red carpets, like shown by Beyoncé. But it’s not just jewelry for the famous and extraverted people. It is jewelry that shows character and personality. Something that appeals also to far more modest people, that aren’t necessarily in the limelight. Expressing oneself through a strong design is something I personally love very much. And...how can I not love David Webb? The enormous animal themed jewelry collection is so unique and so recognizable. Making jewelry that is easy to recognize is not an easy task in the very crowded jewelry world.
Think of Pamela and you think of gemstones. Her love for gemstones is so visible in every collection. Sometimes left a little *raw* sometimes carved with flowers in it and other times cut in a more traditional way. Pamela started her career at the tender age of 16. She unearthed stones and learned how to cut them at a local gem cutter. She dedicated her life to her family for over a decade, but then also returned to her teenage love: the gemstones. She works with many different kinds of gemstones, such as Ethiopian opals, Jade, Turquoise, Mexican Fire Opals and also fossils.
I don’t know Pamela personally, but I get this feeling about her as being a very modest, sensitive person. I could be wrong but as I read more about her, she is open about insecurities she might have and that fascinates me always a 100 times more than the slick marketing talk some people still handle today. I love how she plays with gemstones. Preferably leaving them a little *raw*. Color, a story, beautiful pieces...there is nothing I do not like about Pamela Huizenga
A mother and daughter team formed by Rhonda and Tiffany Bartolacci and named after the matriarch of the family with the surname Borgioni. Bohemian, vintage, rock, medieval..all adjectives that suit their collection perfectly. Although both mother and daughter may have their very own style, it is a perfect matrimony between their personal views on jewelry design and the edgy non conformist, slightly sexy and spiritual end result.
The wearability of the collection! It is all so wearable. These are pieces of jewelry that don’t need sheer size to make a statement. It is much more subtle than that. A dark rose may seem a little goth if you see it on its own, but now image it as you wear it with a denim jacket and a t-shirt, or on a beautiful blouse. You don’t perceive it as being goth at all anymore, it just matches your outfit perfectly. They compliment an outfit, but never outdo it. They are subtle reminders of traits within ourselves that we see reflected in the jewelry, without shouting or boasting about it. That is what I love about Borgioni.
Kara Ross, known for her lovely jewelry design, showing mixed materials and beautiful, often unusual cuts of gemstones, has spent most of her life perhaps on the more privileged side. At thirteen, during a trip to Tanzania she gained a gemstone and the love for jewelry design and fascination for gemstones had been born. Although she went to University and later took a job at selling advertisements, she did return to her childhood love for gemstones and took the course of becoming a gemologist at the GIA. Later in life she married a billionaire. Recently she launched Diamonds Unleashed. A project of selling jewelry with fair trade diamonds, completely traceable and turned it into an empowering movement for young women all over the world. It’s perhaps easy to say that this is the kind of non for profit businesses of the rich and famous, but it’s more than that. There is sheer passion behind all she does.
I always loved her more bolder jewelry. I think her use of gemstones is striking. This was already the case before she started with her Diamonds Unleashed movement. I love how companies search for more meaningful ways and more so, for more transparency, more collaboration and a purpose beyond themselves. Mind you, this can only be done, once a person, a group or company has been able to reach the point where all financial needs are met. A starting designer, a company struggling to make ends meet, should always focus on keeping the business healthy first. Obviously, Kara Ross is very much in the position to start a movement like this. But one can only stand up and applaud all people like Bill Gates, Tony Robbins, and all those others who “made it’’, for giving back to the world. And done with the sort of passion that Kara does, it’s even more beautiful. So, let’s support her Diamonds Unleashed movement!
The life of Fulco Verdura is perhaps worthy movie material. Born a duke on the island of Sicily and enjoying a very privileged childhood, he was surrounded by animals, such as baboons and a camel amongst more conventional ones such as dogs, cats and so on. The sheer colors and richness of his youth, the great connections he had and his apparent flamboyant character, made him into the jewelry icon who we still treasure today.
Meeting Cole Porter brought him the career in the U.S.A., meeting Coco Chanel brought him into the world of jewelry. There is so much to tell about the man, the brand and all the people playing parts in this engaging jewelry story, such as my beloved artist Dalì, that we can’t possible cover it all here in this blog but Verdura is this iconic brand. It isn’t widely available and many of the pieces refer to its very rich history. Photo’s of Princess Diana, Coco Chanel, Diana Vreeland, Greta Garbo remind us of our past century icons and the jewelry is by no mean less iconic. Not everyone’s taste perhaps, but the cuffs with the maltese crosses on them, like worn in a pair by Coco Chanel and still available today in limited edition, are really something else. Verdura is for those who can afford the brand and love statement jewelry. The drama, references to cinema and great artists, and the colorful background of Duke Verdura..it is all reflected in the jewelry.
Some of the pieces meet my very own personal taste, but what I love even more is the rich history of the brand. The many stories around the Duke’s life, love and luxury, is what colors my glasses when looking at the jewelry. By itself, the jewelry is bold, not the most current style and outspoken, perhaps even a little too much Hollywood of the old days, but when you look at it, knowing the story, it comes to life. If you put that together with the charming, ever so lovely people working with the brand today, it is easy to see why I can’t help adoring Verdura.
Jorge Adeler. Born and raised in Argentina, moved to the U.S.A in the ‘70’s. He opened a jewelry store with his wife and today their two daughters are part of the company too. Jorge is a love for gemstones and pearls. His designs are best described as original, baroque, raw and contemporary.
I love how he allows the gemstones and pearls to play the leading role. But always with a twist. There is nothing ‘easy’ about his designs. All of them are honoring the original or close to original shape of the stone. Yet the whole collection is extremely wearable. Although you might love to wear it for the special occasion moments, it is just as easy to wear during the day. Perhaps that’s what I love most about this brand, originality and wearability. It doesn’t give me that vibe of being extremely exclusive or very much a snob brand, even though it isn’t for everyone's wallet, of course.
Born in Lebanon, but based today in LA. She started the business in 1988 with her husband Paul who is a diamond setter, after learning much about jewelry design from her father. Suzanne is building still on expanding her name and brand and winning awards for her Fireworks and Vitrine collection sure helps!
What I love a lot is her playful use of baguettes. This diamond cut has always been a favorite of mine. Perhaps baguettes aren’t as popular as they used to be in the eighties and nineties for example, but the way Suzanne uses them is unconventional and adds that perfect contemporary look many of us love today. Check out her Kalan14 collection too. Very affordable jewelry!
Tony Lent has been working for more than 50 years in jewelry design. His sons created the Anthony Lent brand in 2013. Tony Lent discovered his love for jewelry, whilst studying sculpture. Influenced by the European designers, he continued to create unique jewelry with a deep love for sculpture and craftsmanship. Anthony Lent’s collection is full of symbolism. Faces, moons and stars are seen everywhere.
It is obvious when you look at the jewelry and read the story: here is man who doesn’t want to please everyone. He has a vision, an artist's point of view, although a jewelry designer, it is not difficult to see his background in sculpture.. What I love also is that it is actually more affordable than you think and I love the twist with the little faces here and there. I have always loved moons in jewelry. The jewelry looks soft, a little magical and seems to speak to me with a kind and mild voice that somehow makes me think of the enchantment of children’s books.
This brand has been created by Aaron Furlong who studied at the GIA and has a bachelor of arts title. He went to study for 6 years with a Master jeweler, perhaps always the best path to excellence. His brand works in platinum and 18kt gold. His work is highly wearable, never heavy or too bold, but open and playful.
It has to be the fact that his jewelry is something one can picture immediately wearing. I am not sure if that makes any sense, but the jewelry is classic in its design, but has that modern, contemporary look and feel. Wearable, elegant and forever beautiful. The kind of jewelry one passes on for generations to come.
Joel Arthur Rosenthal is a brilliant man. Studied languages and more, worked in different fields, showing great talent before starting out as a jewelry designer. It seems, when you read his history,that this is a man who stumbled upon things that grabbed his attention and then became obsessed with it. A highly intelligent man and notoriously ‘’different’’ in how he works. Having a ‘’non descript salon” in Paris and working mostly on jewelry commissioned by his clientele.
His jewelry does extremely well at auctions and ishighly sculptural and impressive. It is an impressive designer and unique in his very own way, although one can see influences of other jewelry companies and designers, something that is inevitable especially at a certain level. JAR is a little weird. There is this rumour that he won’t sell a piece if he doesn’t like it on a client or when knocking on this nondescript salon door, someone will shout what it is you want and who send you. It all adds to the myth about him and I think he and his co-workers kind of treasure that myth too. Being eccentric always fascinates people, especially if your work is great!
This jewelry is intended for a handful of people on this planet. The happy few who love the mystery created and know very well that his jewelry is not just one of kind, but very likely to fetch more at auction if sold later on. I haven’t met the man, now in his 70’s but I picture him like this genius but slightly crazy person, obsessive with detail and obsessive about where he pictures his jewelry once finished. The jewelry itself is stunning, enormous, impressive. But perhaps the myth he created is even bigger than the jewelry itself. I am forever in love with the zebra brooch created in 1987.
Lorraine Schwartz has been known for the past decade or more for her extravagant designs that adorned some of Hollywood’s favorite sweethearts. Lorraine has been working with her family in the diamond business, but said that her leap into the celebrity world came with supermodel Iman with husband to be David Bowie, buying a 10 carat canary diamond. Probably it may have given her the courage to dare to go bigger and more extravagant. More celebrities followed and perhaps one of the pieces most talked about recently is the famous engagement ring for the Kardashian-West family.
Lorraine’s jewelry is a favorite on the red carpet. A very Hollywood rich style, over-the-top glamorous, but at the same time, the pieces have this movement that makes any woman feel conscious about how it works for her, creating that kind of sexy feeling that gives a boost to one’s self-assurance. I can imagine that feeling that whilst walking in front of the camera’s helps a lot!
If you work in jewelry, behind the scenes, like I did for many years in sales and marketing, you know that it is a rather old fashioned, risky business with a lot of hard working people. Trust, skills, insight and making decisions that cost a lot of money for often rather small companies. Family businesses can make one feel belong and having a background in jewelry must feel like growing your own career from a kind of fertile soil.
But family business can be also rather conservative and family relationships can be complicated. Lorraine has taken a rather traditional diamond business into the world of Hollywood glitter and glamour. Media loves dropping names of famous people being her clients and friends. And although PR is always making things a little more glam than it is, I admire Lorraine for the steps she took. It takes guts and it takes luck and it takes a whole lot of hard work. To make it in a world where there is surely no shortage of jewelry and big names, is what all those small brands dream of. She made it come true. Although maybe lucky, I can only imagine how much she must have thrown herself into her dreams. The jewelry is utterly glamorous. And just a pleasure to look at. But I think what I most admire is the person behind the brand.
Sutra is based in Houston and founded by Arpita Navlakha in 2008. She too comes from a family of jewelers and says one of her favorite childhood memories is playing with gemstones. The brand is heavily influenced by the Indian background of the family and the jewelry is a kind of mix and match between the U.S. glam jewelry style and the Indian style. But it has a modern look and feel and often black gold is used. Black gold is not for those who love to *show off* but rather a sophisticated choice. It creates a very strong contrast with the gemstones adorning the jewelry itself.
As a European person one can get a little tired of reading on a little too many jewelry websites that they are * a favorite on the red carpet* and then some names are always mentioned. It is what marketing in the U.S. is very much about for fashion designers and jewelry, or so it seems at least. Sutra is no different in this, whilst I think that the little bit written about the brand on the website could have been far more exciting, telling us more of who Arpita is, her views, her life and her life between two countries. There is a story there! Sutra’s jewelry is not screaming how expensive it is. The gemstones in it, make it rather expensive but the Sutra style itself isn’t loud. Apart from being a perfect mix of two countries it also is a perfect mix between classic jewelry and fashion trends. It feels fashionable, trendy, contemporary and very much jewelry of now. That’s what I admire most about this brand, the art of balance between countries and styles. And it is a perfect balance.
Daria de Koning has a name that stands out immediately. Her Dutch surname may have caught my attention before her jewelry did. Daria has a Dutch father and American mother. She carries a lot of that in her down to earth style in her designs. But nothing she creates is common. There is always a little twist, even in her affordable fine jewelry collection. The collection is light and delightful. Very easy to wear and cabochons are obviously her favorite!
Young, mixed background half European, half American, artistic background in graphic design. There is something about her and her jewelry that I instantly like. It is the kind of jewelry I would suggest a friend to take a look at if they are searching for something a little different, but not too much. A little different, but not too much may sound funny, but it is actually perhaps the most heard comment when people talk about looking for a piece of jewelry! Daria is just that. She also has a more glamorous collection, I can imagine that her clients may be young themselves and grow with her over time. I just like Daria de Koning!
Ippolita was founded by the Italian Ippolita Rostagno, a vibrant looking woman who created a big name in the U.S.A. Something many Italian designers dream of doing, but only a couple will actually succeed. Ippolita is amongst my favorite brand for its design and approachable style. The jewelry itself is not cheap but not expensive either. Collections like the Reef Relief or Cascade and Jet Set are very lovely, without being extravagant. This is a brand that will simply suit everyone.
There is clearly a very commercial company behind the brand. This isn’t a designer who is picky and focusses on her own set of beliefs about jewelry, but everything about the brand tells me that they look at the client. And not the rich or famous client, not something that will stand out on a red carpet scene, but something nice, for every woman. With a hint of design and originality in everything. I appreciate that. I appreciate the focus on a large group of women and the non exclusive approach of the brand. And yes, I do love those Cascade earrings a lot!
This designer works mostly in sterling silver and black rhodium. Creating jewelry that is both captivating and unique. But again, a brand that doesn’t exclude people, but rather offers something very lovely, from more classic design to kind of unique. Matthew Campbell Laurenza is, like so many designers, influenced by his background in architecture and sculpture. Someone who loves to travel extensively, which reflects in everything he does and creates. Travelling opens the mind, a travelling artist can’t be restricted to one style but will always be developing new ones as he nurtures his soul with the culture, people and heritage of other places.
I love how he is an open mind about jewelry and using silver. Not fixating on price or that certain pieces make only sense in gold. The prices of the collections are one of the best priced around; a perfect balance between quality and price. It never seems too expensive for what it is, or that one pays for the brand itself. What I love is the way the collections are build. Around places for example. On the website, they have created a kind of mood board, taking you into the idea, taste and atmosphere which led to the collection itself. I ADORE the Jeweled Garden collection. Every single piece is beautiful and impressive! And I would love to wear them myself, all of them!
Loree Rodkin is this multi talented person. Her collection screams rock, glitter and glamour but not the moviestar kind of glamour. More the rock singers, queens of pop-kind of glamour. Cher is her best friend and Loree is one of the most interesting people in the jewelry scene. Take a look at the careers she had. She was a designer of the home of rock stars, a talent manager who stood at the cradle of the careers of Brad Pitt, Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey Jr and thén she became a jewelry designer. It shows. Her style is all about her past careers and her look on life. Edgy, rock, glitter a little goth and not for the modest and shy.
Easy, she is the one designer I would love to spend time with. She is the one that I find intriguing and I just know how she must be full of stories. I am Dutch, down to earth and not so interested in the stardom of people, but I am utterly in love with learning about their story. Loree has a story and I am sure it’s not all about glitter and to make it in the way she did, reveals what a determined and crazy interesting person she must be. Oh, and I think her jewelry rocks.
A company that doesn’t produce themselves, but work with several artists. Respecting the culture and claiming to have one of the finest collections in the world of Indian jewelry. Bird rings by Quintin Quam, a sunface ring by Toby Henderson, just browse through the enormous collection already and see all the different styles! This jewelry suits the lovers of native american jewelry, but also those who are into the bohemian fashion style, or if you are more rock & roll lover. There is something for everyone, but it all has a story. The original story of a magnificent country. A story told by the art of the many fantastic craftsmen that are represented by Garland’s Indian Jewelry.
I always love to look at original jewelry from any culture. Often not as polished as the jewelry I have seen in Italy, but the story of heritage and culture makes it all the more interesting. Put that together with a fond love for turquoise and you may understand why I have put this store really amongst all others. Also, I think truly that a list like this, could not be without showing respect for the original Americans and their art. One of my own favorite pieces? The 1970’s ring by Alice Quam, a turquoise cluster ring. Fantastic!
The Wonderland Opal Bunny is the first piece of jewelry I saw from Mimi So. It captured my attention and Mimi draw me into a magical world of fine beautiful, whimsical enchanted jewelry. She started her company in 1998. Was raised in the world of jewelry by her parents and studied at Parsons. Her jewelry is from small and extremely wearable for a large group of women to whimsical like the aforementioned Opal Bunny ring.
Mimi’s jewelry is rather fine and small. Although yes, there are some bigger pieces, it is not bold. It has the kind of elegance that I seek in jewelry like this. Small jewelry isn’t always my very own personal taste. Which, of course, says nothing about the quality or anything, but only about what I personally love most myself, for me. I am not a minute person and it kind of gets lost when I wear small jewelry. But Mimi? I think her jewelry shouts modesty, design, good taste, elegance and the mind of a dreamer. And I like that. Oh, and of course, I am utterly in love with the Bunny ring :-)
What is your favorite American Jewelry Brand? Which designer or brand would you suggest to me as being hot or interesting or new or absolutely something one must check out? Or are you a designer or brand yourself and think I should look at your brand too? Do let me know! I always listen to what people tell me about what they found, loved or saw somewhere and love to learn why they loved it. Or why I should check it out.
That’s what I have tried to do here as well. Writing a short piece about a brand is one thing. But knowing why I have chosen it, makes it perhaps more interesting. You don’t need to agree with my taste or opinion, but what I hope you will do however is LOOK. Look up these brands and designers. What did you like about the jewelry? If there is an occasion soon or later, what would you think would suit you? Or what would you like to give to someone. Learning just a little bit more about a background can help to make a more informed decision.
This blog is based on my own vision and taste, but I also kept in mind what I have learned about jewelry sales. On how people look at jewelry and why some brands do so very well, in my opinion, in listening to you. You are the reason for the creation of jewelry!
nice article. I pinned a few images to my boards
Thanks Carol! :-)
Images are really good and Esther Lightart you are really awesome. your article is very informative. thank you so much for sharing
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And yes I really enjoyed the reading this line. "Known for their engagement rings, but also for their fine jewelry and exquisite pieces."
Hi Christine, thank you so much for your lovely comment! :-*
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