For Jenny Klatt and Stephanie Wynne Lalin, founders and designers of New York-based fine jewelry brand Jemma Wynne, inspiration always comes from their surroundings. In their latest series, it turns out to be an escalator.
They don’t have “Eureka!” One of them, though. “We thought,” Ms. Larin said, “it really reminded us of the beautifully constructed steps of an escalator.”
Ms Clutter said the series was actually conceived “years ago”, at least on paper. Ms. Larin “has these really big sketchbooks where she’s constantly thinking about ideas and jotting things down” — which they revisit when they feel the time is right, she said.
Women love to create heavy, textured jewelry. Ms. Larin, who oversees the company’s design efforts, and Ms. Clutter, who runs operations and sales, keep coming back to the zigzag doodles she drew.
But it wasn’t until they got a complete bracelet in their hands that everything suddenly became clear. “It does feel like an escalator,” Ms Larin said.
Ms. Clutter noted that they “really liked the metaphorical feel of it, you know, it pushes you upwards.”
Ms. Clutter and Ms. Larin both made jewelry at university and met while working for jeweler Judith Ripka. At the New York-based business, women work closely with the in-house jewelry factory and learn their craft from goldsmiths. “It’s been the most incredible education,” Ms. Larin said.
In 2007, they decided to start their own self-owned label, first introducing open cuffs and then open rings. Over time, the company has become known for its colorful and versatile designs.
The Escalator collection, which debuted in June, consists of 30 pieces ranging in price from $840 for plain ear clips to $28,980 for a 16-inch yellow gold choker with 0.6 carats of diamonds. Pieces are crafted in 18-karat yellow, rose or white gold, and most are set with diamonds or diamonds with special cuts such as bullet or shield cuts. One-of-a-kind pieces are being created, and women say they plan to extend the line.
Ms. Larin said she and Ms. Clutter were “passionate about finding ideas that we thought, and when we discussed them, they said, ‘Oh, that’s so simple,'” but the production turned out to be complex.
For example, the Escalator necklace and bracelet are articulated, and it took a year to achieve the fluidity they wanted while still retaining a striking geometry. In contrast, the earrings and rings are both rigid and took about three months to develop.
Ms Larin first sketched the design, then used a digital program to work out the technical details, and even created a paper version that was wrapped around her wrist for size and proportion. They then work with model makers to refine the plans, create prototypes, and finally have experts produce the final piece. (The two women have eight employees, including production staff, but commission work from different jewelers, depending on design needs.)
The basic designs “have a very quiet luxury feel to them”, Ms Larin said, noting that their collections often feature more color.
Marci Hirshleifer-Penn is the Global Personal Shopper and Womenswear Buyer for Hirshleifers in Manhasset, New York, which sells the line. In an email, she described the Escalator as a “modern extension of the previous collection,” with a design that is “elegant and timeless, while still being fun and durable.”
For Ms. Hirshleifer-Penn, “what really makes it feel like a modern piece is the shape.”