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Designer Spotlights

  • Designer Spotlight: Bounkit

    Bounkit jewelry

    The newest addition to the all-star roster at Greenwich St. Jewelers is Bounkit, a collection of audacious gemstone jewelry by designer Hassan Bounkit. A native of Morocco, Bounkit began his career in working for the haute couture houses in Italy before moving to New York. He fell in love with jewelry design and launched his collection in 2006 with the goal of creating pieces that could be worn in different ways, offering endless options from daring to demure. His Mediterranean background is apparent in the use of color and texture in the Bounkit collection, which is known for the incredible color pairings and the interchangeable nature of each piece.

    Bounkit lemon quartz and lapis earrings Bounkit Lapis and Lemon Quartz earrings are convertible from a stud to a statement drop.

    All jewelry in the range can be worn in two to three different ways, or paired with parts of other pieces to double, if not triple or quadruple your jewelry wardrobe. Made in Bounkit’s NYC atelier, each jewel is meticulously handcrafted from sensationally large and or vibrant gemstones giving the collection a modern, architectural sensibility.

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    We asked Hassan to indulge us and answer our some questions so you can get to know this talented designer.

    Jewelry Designer Hassan Bounkit

    What’s on your playlist while you’re working at the bench?

    I like listening to Jazz.

    We’re coming over for dinner, what’s on the menu?

    Tajine with homemade bread and  salads. After diner we serve Moroccan Mint tea and sweets.

    What are you most proud of?

    My son Rayan and daughter Jana.

    Tell us about an unlikely source of inspiration.

    Old Bollywood movies.

    What is your favorite quote or mantra that you live your life by?

    Always treat the others the way you want to be treated.

    How do you stay balanced?

    I work in Manhattan which I get my energy from and live in the suburbs away from it all.

    What’s your guilty pleasure?

    Lasagna and not a veggie one!

    If you had to buy a piece of jewelry from another designer who would it be?

    David Webb

    Tell us about your most sentimental piece of jewelry and the story behind it.

    I made a cuff with a large Fluorite center and leaves set with Peridot and clear quartz. It was featured in Elle magazine in 2006. That was the first editorial with my jewelry.

    Bounkit's flourite cuff bracelet Bounkit's flourite cuff bracelet

    And lastly, here’s a speed round of one of our favorite games, THIS OR THAT:

    Five star hotel or tent under the stars? Tent under the stars

    Dance all night or hike all day? Hike all day

    Street art or museum of art? Museum of art

    Sweet or savory? Sweet

    Digital or analog? Analog

  • Designer Spotlight with Rebecca Overmann

    On any given day you can find Rebecca Overmann happily ensconced in her studio in San Francisco’s Mission District.  From initial sketch to completed jewel she and her team of jewelers execute each stage of creation and bring her organic inspired designs to life.  A trained metalsmith in her own right, Rebecca carves wax by hand revealing the design as she works.  She wears each new piece for a couple of weeks to ensure both the style and comfort meet her high standards before becoming part of her collection.  We had the opportunity to ask Rebecca some telling questions to find out what makes this talented designer tick.

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    What’s on your playlist while you’re working at the bench?

    We’re an eclectic bunch! While I’m at the bench I tend towards Matthew Dear but that’s just me. We all have input in the music and it can go from Sade to Johnny Cash to Mos Def in the span of 20 minutes.

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    The next stop on my travel list is:

    Boring I know, but Hawaii or Baja — I need a quick recharge! Southern Africa’s pretty high on the list for the next big trip.

    We’re coming over for dinner, what’s on the menu?

    You’d have to ask my husband (he’s the cook in the house)…. But if it’s Friday, definitely pizza on the grill.

    What are you most proud of?

    The studio-family we’ve built! I’m so fortunate I get to work with such incredibly talented and skilled people on a daily basis. Over the past couple of years I’ve made a big push to bring all aspects of production in-house — I’m very proud to say that everything we produce is done entirely in our San Francisco studio by some of the most skilled jewelers I’ve known.

    Tell us about an unlikely source of inspiration.

    Nothing seems that unlikely anymore! I’ve always found the most inspiration from the physical world around me — textures (whether natural or man made) often find their way into my pieces. For a time, I was using a chunk of concrete that I found on my way to the studio to texture my men’s bands.

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    Tell us about a past failure and what you learned from it.

    I wouldn’t necessarily call it a failure now, but at the time it certainly felt like one. Not too long after moving to San Francisco to pursue a career in graphic design and advertising, I was laid off. The upside was that my stipend bought me enough time to try jewelry full-time — here I am 13 years later!

    What is your favorite quote or mantra that you live your life by?

    I’m not much of a mantra person — but there are certainly some ideals that are hugely important to me.

    Relationships both personally and professionally are extremely important and I absolutely love the fact that I still sell at the very first store to ever pick up my line.

    Control is a big one for me — I don’t believe that anyone can produce something truly wonderful without a tremendous amount of control — control of the process, the materials, the design and the patience to stay the course.

    Fun. It should be fun to do what you do every day (I’m still having a lot of fun)!

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    How do you stay balanced?

    I limit the time that I work on, or think about jewelry to my waking hours :)  Having two Australian Shepherds though, is a nice distraction.

    What’s your guilty pleasure?

    Chocolate… not so guilty though.

    Tell us about your most sentimental piece of jewelry and the story behind it.

    Just one? I’m a very sentimental person and I have quite a collection of pieces — from turquoise bracelets I bought as a teenager to diamond rings that I’ve made recently. These are the first earrings I ever made myself (a very long time ago) — and while they probably won’t end up in my line anytime soon, they remind me of the excitement I felt when I first started making jewelry .

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    If I weren’t designing jewelry I’d be

    That crazy lady with way too many dogs (and cats) — I think I’d definitely have to be involved in some way with animal rescue or rehabilitation.

    And lastly, here’s a speed round of one of our favorite games, THIS OR THAT:

    Five star hotel or tent under the stars?

    Five start tent under the stars.

    Hike all day or dance all night?

    Hike all day…. As long as it’s with my pups.

    Street art or museum of art?

    Street art!

    Sweet or savory?

    Both… the latter followed by the former.

    Digital or analog?

    Music: Digital (convenience wins)
    Jewelry: Definitely analog — I’m all about what someone can do with their hands, not a computer!
    Art: Analog — I loved time in the darkroom when I was studying photography.

    We’re so grateful to Rebecca for letting us get to know a bit more about her.  We have always been thrilled to represent the work of such an inspired designer.  Now we have a newfound respect and admiration for the woman herself.  We hope you will be inspired too!  Shop our Rebecca Overmann jewelry collection.

  • Artistic Innovation: An Interview with Todd Reed

    todd reed

    There’s no doubt that a piece of jewelry by Todd Reed will win a place in your heart forever. Nobody else does what he does. With an artist’s soul and a deep appreciation of natural materials, it’s easy to see why Todd’s award winning designs are held in private collections worldwide. Our owner, Jennifer, paid a visit to his studio last year and was fascinated by his workspace and design process.

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    Todd looks for inspiration everywhere. His workspace is filled with inspiring objects, sketches by his daughter Flora, and always, always a little jade figurine of Ganesh. During Todd’s visit to New York City this month he will be making a special appearance at our shop and absorbing the architecture and the creative energy of this city where art meets community in such a special way.  We had a few questions for him in preparation for his visit.

    Todd, you’ve been doing this since the nineties.  In all your time designing jewelry, do you have a favorite piece?

    Todd: Peaceful Place is a special piece to me primarily because it deals with deep emotion. It’s beautiful and intriguing and also bears the story of personal growth, wisdom and the pain of needing a peaceful place. This piece articulates the beauty around closing down/ opening up, reveling your true self or working with polished outside. Art is simply making an emotion into some kind of deliverable thing, I use my jewelry design to communicate my story.

    Todd Reed award-winning jewelry The award winning pendant, Peaceful Place, on display in Todd’s Venice, Ca showroom. This has a hidden locket that opens to a Moldavia Buddha.

    You are something of a pioneer when it comes to designing with raw diamonds and recycled metals. What inspired you to create a sustainable jewelry collection?

    Todd: I think ethical responsibility in this industry is difficult to ignore any more. When I started my company, I had certain principles that I had wanted to have at the core. It was not popular to be responsible about sourcing at the time. It was important to me though, so we did it.

    This is the type of forward-thinking that delights your fans and keeps you ahead of trend. What inspired you to work with raw diamonds?

    Todd: During geology class in high school, we studied rock crystals and I fell in love with their shapes, texture and sparkle. I liked how a diamond left just as it’s found in nature can dictate the architecture of a piece of jewelry.

    In 1994, I met one of the top collectors of raw diamonds who also loved these gems for their unique qualities over any monetary value.

    What is your favorite part about what you do?

    Todd: Connecting with people and expressing my feelings through art.

    That’s definitely something that comes through in your work! How often do you sketch or draw?

    Todd: I am constantly sketching – I have hundreds of sketches on napkins, scrap paper and in notebooks. My sketch books provide a constant reservoir of designs that I pull from.

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    How much leeway to create do you give your artisans?

    Todd: I am the only designer. However, we do create custom designs and often clients work on a piece with an account manager, but before being made, I approve the design.

    I meet regularly with the shop master to discuss and work through fabrication details.  Each jeweler will create the piece from start to finish, which is unique in the jewelry industry. Keeping each piece with one jeweler keeps the aesthetic and the energy of the piece in balance.

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    What factor about yourself, do you feel is the biggest contributor to your success?

    Todd: I constantly stay true to my vision.

    You certainly have an authentic voice – your tagline Raw Elegance really hits the nail on the head. Where do you hope to see your brand in 10 years?

    Todd: Ten years I'll still be the founder, designer and CEO of TRI, and designing the most innovative and beautiful jewelry I can.

    That sounds like a plan! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Todd Reed and his growing empire. 

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    Art is simply making an emotion into some kind of deliverable thing,

    I use my jewelry design to communicate my story.

    -Todd Reed

  • The Art of Embracing Damage: An Interview with Jamie and Jeremy Joseph

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    Every once in awhile a designer comes along that dares to look at jewelry in a transformative way. Jamie and Jeremy Joseph have been doing this since they began creating their namesake collection over 20 years ago. Who would dare drill a gemstone and set a diamond into it? Only these two crazy kids. Their diamond studded rings immediately became highly coveted by jewelry connoisseurs. Those who were in the know immediately began building their personal collections. We have two clients who became fast friends after meeting and striking up a conversation over a rainbow moonstone Jamie Joseph ring. (Their second encounter happened here pouring over our selection, natch.) Yet another client’s collection spans 40 rings and 10 years of fandom.

    It’s tough not to be fans of the design duo. Their pieces are not only beautiful, wearable and original but they are filled with the intense good energy of artists doing what they love, creating beauty and sending it out into the world. I took a few minutes to chat with them while they were in the store today about their work and the new collection, Golden Joinery.

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    Let’s talk about Golden Joinery. This collection is very special. The concept of embracing, adorning and presenting imperfection in a beautiful way really resonates with me. Tell us how it came to be, how long have you been working on it?

    Jamie: Well, 20 years! We’ve been throwing broken stones in this beautiful African ceremonial bowl, we call it the boneyard, forever. And when I read the Kinsugi thing it was like a lightbulb moment. I knew right then why I’d been saving the stones for all those years.

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    Note: Kintsugi is the Japanese pottery-mending technique where broken ceramics are repaired with golden seams. As a philosophy, Kintsugi can be expressed as an embracing of the flawed or imperfect.  It treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

    How did that happen?

    Jeremy: A friend of ours sent it to Jamie and was kinda like, I saw this and I thought of you. And then Jamie saw it and took it to the stones.

    Jamie: After that aha moment, I got to work and it took about a year to create the first small collection which I presented at the Couture show this past June.

    Tell us about the creation process. What were the challenges?

    Jamie: I love 22k gold, it’s so rich and ancient feeling, and I wanted the pieces to look like something buried, like an archaeologist would unearth. The fabrication process is all handmade and stones would break again or I’d have to send them to Jeremy to re-cut to fit the design I was working on. Its super-labor intensive, but I love the fact that it’s so thoughtful.

    Are you pleased with the end result?

    Jamie: Oh, I love it! I feel it’s such a great message about sustainability in gemstones and I feel the new joined stones are almost more beautiful than they were originally. For example, the green tourmaline necklace we brought in for the trunk show, that stone came back to me as a resize and during the work we broke it. When that happened, I literally cried because that stone was so amazing.

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    It sure is! We’re all obsessed with the new work. It’s such a sophisticated evolution of the collection and I love the meaning and intention behind transforming perceived damage into wearable art.

    What’s next for Jamie Joseph?

    Jamie: We’ve become kind of like a machine and with Golden Joinery my creativity really began to flow again. You’re going to see lots of changes to the line.

    How exciting! We'll be waiting with bated breath to see what that means!

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  • Arik Kastan: The Story Behind the Jewelry

    One of our most popular designer lines and loved by the jewelry and fashion insiders, Arik Kastan in the United States wouldn’t be possible without one fierce entrepreneur: Tamar Kelman.

    “I immediately fell in love with Arik Kastan’s work and knew I had to find him,” Kelman says, of the first time she saw his jewelry in 2009.  Previously, she worked with a variety of Israeli-based jewelry designers, helping them launch their lines in the United States.  Arik Kastan’s diamond and gemstone jewelry, handcrafted with vintage-inspired rose and yellow gold, stood out to Kelman as something new and refreshing.  She liked that it still featured an old world jewelry technique and look.

    arik kastan citrine ringarik kastan opal earrings

    Over the past six years, Kastan and Kelman’s business relationship has flourished, due to the success of the line in the United States.  While Kastan stays true to his original gold mixtures and handcrafted details, Kelman takes the pulse of fashion trends and helps to infuse the designs with a modern touch.

    Speaking on their collaborative process, Kelman says, “It varies a lot.  Sometimes we discuss specific elements and sketch designs, other times I give Arik a general theme or idea I want to introduce and he just innately knows what I mean.”

    Kelman and Kastan speak regularly about what’s currently happening in their lives and what inspires them.  For Kelman, her environment and lifestyle in LA is an important factor.  “Life can get hectic, and taking time to enjoy natural beauty is something that’s important to me.  Los Angeles is a huge city but has a laid-back vibe with great beaches, hiking spots and lush tree-lined canyon roads where I live.  I thought a lot about incorporating floral elements and eclectic color combinations into the collection, paying homage to these traditional motifs of Victorian jewelry.  At the same time, Arik was experimenting with an organic look in the form of raw, imperfect gemstones.  So we blended our concepts together to create floral designs with gems featuring bright, bohemian color combinations,” she said.

    turquoise earrings, arik kastan earrings, arik kastan jewelry

    Kelman took note of the appeal of stacking rings, and started styling looks on the line’s Instagram account.  An LA native, she began by layering the textural rose gold jewels in a way that worked with her own sense of style, mixing luxury with leather jackets, tees and jeans.  The end result was pretty with an edge, a look that captured the attention of jewelry blogger Gem Gossip, known for her “Show Me Your Rings” hashtag.

    arik kastan jewelry, arik kastan instagram

    While Arik Kastan’s styles change based on current inspirations, remarkable gemstones have permanent residency in his jewels.  Kelman and Kastan hand-choose the gems together, focusing primarily on those that were prevalent in the Victorian era, staying true to the vintage aesthetic.  Rustic diamonds and rose-cut rubies sparkle in the rose gold, while turquoise and sapphires add potent contrast.  The iridescent gems:  labradorite, moonstone, and opal, are evaluated by a different criteria when chosen for the jewelry.  “They have to be magical,” says Kelman.

    moonstone earrings, arik kastan earrings, rose gold earringslabradorite ring, arik kastan ring, triple gem ring

     To add more layering possibilities to the mix, this year, Arik Kastan introduced yellow gold in the United States.  It’s a custom blend, and Kelman says “similar to the type of gold you would see in Italian jewelry.  It complements green, blue and black stones really well.”   Kelman advises collectors to wear the two metals together, rather than exclusively.  “Stacking mixed metals always looks great,” she said.

    raw diamond ring, arik kastan ringopal ring, opal stacking band, yellow gold ring

    For a woman eager to add Arik Kastan to her own collection, where’s the best place to start?  Kelman says “Our labradorite and moonstone 3-stone rings are definitely a ‘must-have.’  I also personally love larger statement rings like the Queen’s Scepter ring in labradorite with sapphires and the Marquise shield ring in turquoise with diamonds.  I never leave the house without my watch chain necklace with a large heart padlock.  These are my basics.  Oh!  And the blossom stud earrings.  Also necessary.”

    arik kastan jewelry

    Desiring a jewel in this post, but not on our site?  Email support@greenwichstjewelers.com and we'll order it for you.

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