Jewelry artists most often find themselves working in a solo setting. The creative process needs some quiet space and time, lots of it. Jewelry design requires thoughtfulness and a calm room to let the creative process find its most innovative expression.
Diamond dealers may know the designers they are selling to—but may never learn what happens to their goods farther down the pike. The loose goods can change hands a few times, and in some cases experience a metamorphosis over long periods of time as old pieces find new life in the hands of an inspired designer today.
We spoke with three creative jewelry designers who feature diamonds prominently in various ways in their original designs. Each has a story to tell. And we think it’s worth a listen.
Laura Jackowski-Dickson, designer-owner of LJD Designs, creates luxurious original jewelry in precious metals, gemstones and diamonds. She draws inspiration for her bold and fresh designs from elements seen in nature. Los Angeles based jewelry designer Richard Rothenberg has a loyal clientele of collectors who rely on him for top-notch quality custom work. And Inga Papendiek has served as lead designer at Stephen Silver, an exclusive jeweler specializing in important estate and bespoke jewelry.
Designers may favor certain types of jewelry and end up gaining recognition for that niche. “My favorite jewelry piece to design is the cuff because they are blank canvases that allow a story to evolve. So of course this entails using various melees in different sizes and colors to convey that story.” Even within that jewelry type, Laura discovered she has a pet. “One particular cuff from my Night Sky series comes to mind; it began with a designer wanting a beautiful “blue sky” cuff.”
Papendiek recalls transforming some special diamonds into a romantic new piece. “The custom white diamond flower ring is a very modern flirty piece with a lot of charm,” she reports. But what was it in its previous life? And importantly what was her internal process for imagining what it could become? We buy from private sellers, so sometimes we have a safe full of odds and ends. I was playing with some of these diamonds and it just felt like a cluster ring was in order.” Even though flower motifs have been popular for some time, Papendiek gave it a new twist with the inspirational stones. “It’s a traditional idea that feels new again. That piece has gotten so many compliments.”
Jewelry designer Rothenberg has years of experience designing with diamonds as either the main attraction or in a supporting role. ”In my designs, diamonds can be a focal point or an accent. The challenge is to integrate the diamonds and the gold in such a complementary fashion as to create a visual harmony. I design with a sense of movement and flow; always keeping in mind comfort and fit. When I hand carve a wax design I periodically layout the diamonds on the wax to make sure I’m on the way to fulfill my vision of the finished piece of jewelry.”
At Stephen Silver, estate pieces are iconic to their brand, so there are always diamonds on hand that had a previous life. For private projects Papendiek explains, most acquisitions come about through conversation. “One thing leads to another and before you know it, a client gets excited by the prospect of sorting through their pieces and recreating or selling them to us.”
The creative process of what to do with a parcel of loose stones can sometimes be a long and windy road. According to Rothenberg, “One particular design challenge presented itself years ago when I entered a “Diamonds Today” design competition.” The parameters were pretty straightforward. It required a solitaire, one single large diamond. “As simple as it might sound, featuring one important diamond in a great design was not easy. After finally coming up with my solitaire necklace design, my finished entry won.” I have never forgotten how important good design is.”
Diamonds are a designer’s friend, Jackowski-Dickson believes. “I enjoy working with diamonds and find them to be easy and user friendly as contrasted to many of the colored gemstones. Except for their price, in all other areas diamonds are low-maintenance friends to a jewelry designer…at least for me. Tough and beautiful, they go with any or everything; providing a shine that brightens any piece!”
With so many creations already under their belt, what’s still on a designers bucket list? “I also have a passion for color,” Rothenberg confides. “I’m looking forward to incorporating natural fancy color diamonds in pinks, yellows and blues. The sparkle of colored diamonds would add a dramatic element by enhancing the movement and flow of my jewelry designs.”
Papendiek waxes poetic thinking about what she hasn’t done yet too. “A modern tiara,” she imagines. “I keep thinking about the daisy chains my sister and I made and wore when we were little. I want to make a piece that feels wearable and fun yet isn’t so formal that you couldn’t wear it in today’s world.”
Jackowski-Dickson says, “On my design bucket list I want to work with a gorgeous white diamond that is flawless except for its red garnet inclusion. I would love to showcase this unique feature and natural phenomena; a moment captured in time with the birth of a diamond.” ♦