To say I am constantly thinking about jewelry is an understatement. Whether I’m dreaming up new designs, or refining old ones, jewelry is my obsession.
And I’m always sketching. The more I sketch, the more my ideas flow.
I didn’t become a jeweler right out of high school. Even armed with a degree in goldsmithing, I knew I would never make my own jewelry. I don’t have the hand skills of a life-long jeweler to make my work as perfect and as beautiful as I want it to be. You can’t compare the craftsmanship of a jeweler with thirty years of experience to a student just out of school. I concentrate on my strength—design.
All my models are painstakingly hand made from my sketches. Some take weeks if not months to perfect. (My Shibari rings took over a year from conception to completion.) None of my pieces are pre-drilled. We always start with a solid casting that is drilled by hand by my setter. Small batches, one piece of jewelry at a time.
My team is based in New York City, and I work almost exclusively with Russians. Not just because it gives me a chance to practice my Russian but because I believe Russian jewelers are the best in the business! Not only are they highly skilled jewelers but almost all of them are either painters or sculptors. That fine arts background helps them to understand the nuance of my work and, ultimately, to enhance it!
And by the way, they’re not all men! My enameller is an amazing woman named Marina. She just happens to be one of the best Fabergé restorers in the world. I go to her house in Brighton Beach at least once a week. She feeds me my favorite Russian delicacies, her husband keeps the vodka flowing, and we discuss the work. The enameling she does for me is labor intensive and time-consuming. Every piece is hand-painted with numerous coats of lacquer. One Man Ray Lips Cuff, for example, takes her five days to enamel.
I am lucky enough to have found people whose skill sets surpass mine. And I am very, very grateful for that!