The jewelry maven behind HSN's Rarities offers her views on changing notions of luxury.
By Laurie Kahle, August 09, 2011
What gets you excited in jewelry today?
I see two distinct trends: One is the use of unusual colorful gems that aren’t the typical sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Women are now more open to jewels like Paraiba tourmaline, morganite and rubellite. These gorgeous gemstones have a magnetic appeal—you are not sure why you fall in love with them, but you do. The other thing is rarity, especially anything that is an antique and has a story to tell, which all antiques do. I love antique jewelry, and it inspires me. I spend a majority of my time looking to remake fabulous older pieces. If it is too expensive to reconstruct, I work with my designers to create it in a more affordable version. I’m working on a collection of poison rings, but mine will be “love” rings filled with potent tokens of affection.
How can luxury be affordable? Have notions of luxury changed?
Owning a piece of luxurious jewelry is about owning something that is rare, even if it is created out of sterling silver, wood or other organic materials that are not traditionally considered überluxe. Luxury today doesn’t have to be masterpieces and works of art. A luxury is something you don’t really need but fall in love with. It makes your heart beat faster, and within the piece you have key elements—it’s beautifully crafted (whether in Bangkok or Switzerland), it’s fine quality and it’s got rare elements in terms of design, craftsmanship and uniqueness of gemstones and materials. Jewelry has always been a luxury, but today the rarity and luxury are no longer defined by the expense.
What is your role in creating Rarities jewelry?
I’m a curator and design director with a passion for unique and interesting antiques as well as cultural styling and deco-inspired design. I direct the brand through very careful curating—working closely with design teams for artistic innovation utilizing new organic materials and gem finds. I love finding a perfect antique and having it remade and also remaking a lot of my personal collection that I’ve acquired throughout my life and travels. I study museum artifacts and auction catalogs, and I am greatly inspired by these one-of-a-kind rarities – their DNA, craftsmanship and stories resonate with me.
How do you create “rare” jewelry on a budget?
It’s really exciting and challenging because alternative materials today are so much more fun to work with than traditional alloys like platinum or gold. We’re using agate, onyx, wood, shell, bone, stingray, etc. I get to work with amazing artists who use unique natural materials that are affordable and plentiful so we are not working with limited resources. One of my craftsman carves tiger’s eye and combines it with smoky quartz and white topaz to create a huge ring that I sell for under $600—and it’s outrageous. I am continually on the quest for gems that are not well known and may not be expensive, but the rarity lies in their innate beauty and the mere fact that they are not available in every jewelry store on Main Street.