It’s officially spring, which means that JCK Las Vegas is next week! Okay, just kidding, but it will be here before you know it! Besides getting to see the jewelry friends that all congregate in Las Vegas for the magical #jewelryweeklasvegas, there are other things to look forward to. Big changes are afoot at JCK, and I’m so excited to see what the shiny new Design Center looks like!
Every year, I look forward to walking the Design Center with a sense of discovery, of treasure-hunting the best and brightest jewelry designers. This year the Rising Stars, a collection of emerging and returning designers, will be my first stop. Register to attend today.
Amy Glaswand is one of the Rising Stars I look forward to meeting. Her thoughtful jewelry designs are tight, well-defined collections based on classical architectural and iconic design elements. The sculptural forms sing with pure design elements and just the right colored gemstones as anchors in 18k gold and oxidized sterling. Glaswand’s lifelong involvement with fine arts, including the fashion industry, shows in how she manages to translate historic themes with a totally modern sensibility.
Is this your first year at JCK? How did you feel being selected as a Rising Star?
I’m excited! I’m thrilled, but I’m also a little nervous! I have reached a point where JCK Las Vegas is what I need to do next.
This is definitely the big time for designers! How long have you been designing jewelry?
I have always been involved with fine arts. I started my career as a fabric designer on Seventh Ave in New York City. I did that for years and then worked my way into being a stylist/costumer in film and television. Then I had a child, which in a roundabout way prompted me to study classical goldsmithing. Jewelry was always my first fantasy of a career in New York City, so I came full circle with designing jewelry just recently.
What was the catalyst to finally take the plunge with jewelry?
It was a long process. I took classes in goldsmithing, and classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in jewelry rendering and painting, taught by Maurice Galli. This hands-on creating started to evolve into a defined style and into the love of designing. I started putting this collection together three years ago, and launched the website two years ago. I feel that finding your path is never a straight line for anybody.
Your design philosophy in a word or phrase?
Classic elements in a modern translation.
Coming from the fashion and costume design world, how does that influence your designs?
My jewelry is definitely influenced by my background. Because I come from design and fashion, I try and take trends that are consumer driven and be aware of them. And then l look the other way. My designs are not generic, but I try to transcend trends. I don’t look at jewelry as only art or only commerce. While jewelry is an art form, people still have to wear it. And jewelry should still nod to a statement of who you are as the wearer.
Rings…earrings…bracelets…do you have a favorite jewelry category to design?
My favorite category is…new! I always like my most recent pieces! The new pieces excite me: new shapes, new materials, new colors. I love the process of getting there. I tend to look forward a lot.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in changing careers to a designer in the jewelry industry?
The most exciting part is that I’m more in control of what I’m producing. The hard part is that I’m wearing ALL the hats. I’m continually being forced to learn things I couldn’t imagine knowing years ago. Also, once I put my designs out there, my aesthetic is more on the line than when producing for someone else, as in my past career.
What are you most looking forward to at the JCK Las Vegas show and Design Center?
I’m very excited about meeting retailers and designers and bloggers, in real life! I’m looking forward to that communal feeling of joining forces and the camaraderie for a while.
Doryn Wallach is another Rising Star jewelry designer who embraced jewelry after a previous career. Wallach spent two decades in interior design. You can see her former career inspiring elements of her jewelry design, particularly Art Deco and Hollywood Regency: a curved line here, a repeating pattern there. Her Instagram account is a delightful amalgam of all her passions: art, architecture, magazine tear sheets, travel. Wallach is gathering steam and press: She is definitely #onetowatch.
I spent more than 15 years as an interior designer, but jewelry is really my first love. My mother has always had an incredible eye for jewelry, so growing up, I learned a tremendous amount by following her around to jewelry stores and listening to her discuss pieces with jewelers. For a time, she even worked part-time at a jewelry store, and I remember sitting on the floor and drawing the jewelry in the cases. I love how personal jewelry is. It’s a tangible object that you can hold in your hand and pass down to a loved one. You wear it on your skin, and it becomes an extension of your body. But at the same time, jewelry has the element of fantasy—it can be the ultimate expression of creativity and artistry, lifting us from the mundane and everyday.
While you do some designs in metal only or with a sprinkling of diamonds, you sometimes focus on strong color: coral red, turquoise blue. What is it about color that excites you?
I am one of those people who tends to wear mostly black. However, I love to accent my wardrobe with a strategic use of color. Color has the incredible ability to transform one’s mood, and I like to use colors that make a woman feel good when she wears them. Coral red, for instance, has a playful intensity. Turquoise blue is serene and uplifting. However, part of my love in designing jewelry is in my finding and discovering stones.
What piece(s) from your collection would you wear every day? Special occasion?
I wear three of the gold octagon stackable rings with my three-sided diamond octagon ring on one hand and on the other I always wear my white diamond Gladiator ring. These pieces are simple yet make a statement. The Gladiator has particularly special meaning for me because it’s the piece that sparked my decision to design jewelry full-time. For special occasions, I most often wear the octagon long earrings and the diamond screen cuff.
What new jewelry design are you most excited about?
It’s hard to say. I am planning to introduce emeralds into the collection as well as some great stack bracelets. I am also excited about the potential of an amazing stone from Tucson [Ariz.] that I acquired in February.
Do you take design inspiration from your previous work in interiors and translate that to jewelry? If so, what is the biggest challenge in interpreting that? Biggest reward?
Yes, my jewelry is definitely influenced by my work in interiors! At times the source of my inspirations have been specific objects or motifs I discovered through designing interiors—a vintage light fixture, a wallpaper pattern, an antique box or a piece of cabinet hardware. And overall, the design challenges in jewelry and interiors are often quite similar. In both, you need to balance texture, scale, and color, and consider the use of positive and negative space. But perhaps most importantly for me, the results need to be timeless. Unlike costume jewelry or fast fashion, fine jewelry and interiors are not really trend driven; they are an investment, and as a designer you owe it to your clients to create something that will endure. My biggest challenge is not being too literal with the inspiration. The biggest reward is in connecting with customers, editors, and retailers who appreciate how all this comes together.
Who is the core customer that you envision as you create?
She is someone with an eye for design and appreciation for craftsmanship. She admires classic designs but is not tied to the past. She wants to make a statement but is not trend driven. She would rather be sophisticated than showy.
What are you looking for in retailers who might carry your work?
The relationship I make with my retailers is very important to me. Some of the most informative conversations regarding this industry have been with owners or buyers from a few incredible jewelry stores. I’m learning that fine jewelry consumers often greatly depend on, and value, the store from which they purchase. Realizing this, my goal is to have open communication with the retailers so that I can better understand their clients’ needs. It’s important for me to work with a retailer who understands my jewelry and my aesthetic and who has a sense of which customers will connect with my pieces. I deeply value the feedback I receive from jewelers who communicate with their customers.
What would you tell your just-starting-out self on the cusp of starting a jewelry line?
Be patient, ask tons of questions, learn from the experts, never act entitled, and work as hard as you possibly can. Make relationships in the industry with wonderful people and don’t expect everything to happen immediately—it takes time. Staying inspired is key!
What are you most excited about participating in the JCK Design Center as a Rising Star?
I am so honored I was chosen for JCK Rising Stars. I love meeting jewelry designers and jewelry professionals—it’s a wonderful community that has been welcoming to me from day one. And I am looking forward to showing my collection and sharing my story with retailers so that they can feel as passionate about it as I do.
Think about five years from now: What does the future hold for your jewelry brand?
I hope that my collections will have an imprint and that my designs will grow and build a brand that is even more cohesive. As I have a private client base as well, I am eager to delve into the retail world across the globe. Travel has always been a huge inspiration for me, and discovering new territory with foreign clients is very intriguing.