“Growing up in Marine Park, Brooklyn, I just wanted to be an artist.
I became fascinated with what my neighbors were throwing in the trash; because my folks collected some antiques, I developed an eye. I understood these objects had value, and that I could sell them at flea markets in Manhattan. I’d go out in the middle of the night with gloves, a flashlight, and a pack of cigarettes — it was the best time of my life.
Eventually, I discovered the Paris flea markets. The jewelry there mesmerized me. After a few trips, I bought my first piece: A demon with a diamond in its mouth and a pearl in its belly.
I loved finding and selling things, and when the Antiquarius Center opened in Los Angeles in the ‘80s, I rented a little space in the front. Goldie Hawn brought her daughter, Kate Hudson, to play with my jewels; Renée Zellweger and Reese Witherspoon started coming in. Soon, it seemed I was designing many of these young starlets’ engagement rings.
These are pieces that make me totally happy:
An amalgamation of vintage and my designs.”
“These four rings represent what I’ve done in American bridal:
Combining aesthetics from the Victorian era, in the 19th century, and the Renaissance with tiny pavé work from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s.
They were all handmade in my workshop.”
“The gargoyle brooches were made by Weise, an important French jewelry firm working in the revivalist style. They’re in the original box, and the goldwork is superb.
I learned about 19th century makers and historical jewels like these when I lived in Paris.”
“This scarab bracelet is also by Weise.
Twenty-five years ago, red carpets were all Armani, straight line bracelets, and little diamond studs. Stylists embraced what I did, because I gave their clients the opportunity to be unique. When Rachel Zoe first came to town, it was just me and her. I remember her saying, ‘I can’t borrow anything else from you, or people will think we’re in business together!’”
“The ruby and diamond bracelet is my heart’s desire. I get goose bumps every time I hold it. My aesthetic is glamorous and jaw-dropping — that’s how I think. I wish I could say it’s my design, but that is one of the great, golden jewels of Hollywood.”
“Jennifer Lawrence wore these jade and diamond earrings when when she won the Golden Globe for AMERICAN HUSTLE. I made them. The onyx and jade bangles were a recent acquisition.
They cost a fortune, and are totally insane!”
“I bought this gold and diamond bangle at auction for around $6,000 in the late ‘80s. At the time, I had no idea who designed it — I just knew it was amazing.
It’s dated 1936, and over the years I learned it’s by Suzanne Belperron, one of the most innovative French jewelry designers.
I recently loaned it to The Louvre for the museum’s exhibition of Art Deco jewelry.”
Photography byBramble Trionfo
As told toAnthony Rotunno