An Interview with Jewelry Designer Shawn Warren

Shawn Warren is a talented jewelry designer from New York. If you don’t know about her yet and follow interesting jewelry designers, you should definitely pay attention to her name. Her jewelry is the secret weapon of a number of celebrities and stylists.

Shawn has a by-appointment studio on Central Park West, and also shows at one retailer, Fred Segal Couture in Santa Monica, CA. To cover other geographic areas, she does several private trunk shows a year, often in the homes of collectors. This model of selling directly to customers has been very successful for her, and allows her to offer an excellent value proposition to her collectors. I had a chance to catch up with her recently, view her current designs, and ask her a few questions.

The (Spectacular) Jewelry

Her collection was surprisingly diverse, with some interesting sub-themes. My favorites were the gorgeous Karma pieces, with Maharajah-like earrings and pendants set with concentric rows of colored gems like dark Sri Lankan sapphires and richly-hued rubies. Rose-cut diamonds set off the colored gems and are sometimes set in yellow gold contrasting with dark rhodium-finished gold. Many items in this collection are limited-edition or one-of-a-kind, and look like they should be double to triple the prices marked.

Karma Sapphire (18.72 ct) and Rose-cut Diamond (4.1 ct) Earrings

Karma Sapphire (18.72 ct) and Rose-cut Diamond (4.1 ct) Earrings

Another favorite was her Diamond Sliver collection. Shawn has designed a series of mainly earrings and necklaces that feature thin “slices” of grey-white diamonds with very organic outlines, often set with pave white diamonds in contrast. The bezel-set diamond slices capture and diffuse the light, creating an effect like stained glass. It manages to be delicate and exciting at the same time.

Royal Sliver Diamond Necklace, 17 carats TW

Royal Sliver Diamond Necklace, 17 carats TW

I’m loving her hoops, with their rose-cut diamond drops. The diamonds are impossibly tiny and perfectly set on the outside and inside of each hoop to catch the light just right. They are available in 3 sizes, and in three colors of gold: white, rose, and a dark rhodium-finish gold that contrasts wonderfully with the sparkle of the diamonds. The rose-cut diamond drops are substantial, with an irregular outline and soft sparkle that keeps them interesting and not too precious. They are also removable, which is a basic tenet of Shawn’s designs–she really likes versatility.

Large Diamond Hoop with Rose-cut Diamond Drop

Large Diamond Hoop with Rose-cut Diamond Drop

I also thought these bracelets were fantastic–very modern and wearable. She combines Tahitian pearls, pave diamond balls, and onyx, labradorite, or hematite beads on silk cord. They are very adjustable for length, as the cord just slides.

Unison Pearl and Diamond Bracelets on Silk Cord, Stacked

Unison Pearl and Diamond Bracelets on Silk Cord, Stacked

The Interview

It was especially great to meet her: she’s a combination of refined and a little rock-and-roll, kind of like her jewelry designs. I also admire that Shawn gives 10% of what she sells to charities, which is notable. She answered a few questions about her current collection and design process:

idazzle: What was the inspiration for your Karma collection?
Shawn Warren: I have always loved Buccellati pieces, with their lacey metalwork and the beauty and quality of the colored gems. But $30,000 to $40,000 retails are not exactly a collectible price point. I wanted to offer important jewelry at a compelling price: customers deserve a luxury item at a great value. I love the “old and new” aspect to the Karma designs. The outlines can be very modern, but the rose-cut gems, which is an ancient cutting style, softens and adds to the lustre of the stones.

idazzle: How often do you release new collections?
SW: I am always working on new designs. We are always emailing clients with our new ideas, and new finished pieces as they come in. I’m really excited about some new pearl designs using organic-shaped Tahitians (pearls) in amazing colors. We are also working at bringing some color into the line: Emeralds, Rubies, Sapphires in bezel-set necklaces that can be doubled up or worn long.

idazzle: Am I correct in thinking that you mainly design for women who are purchasing for themselves?
SW: I have 75 clients that I regularly design for. I know what they like, and keep detailed wish lists which work really well for us and them. When I design I always ask, “can I wear it with jeans?”. Women need jewelry that straddles the different parts of their life.

idazzle: What gives you the most pleasure in your (enviable) career as a jewelry designer?
SW: I love the materials. I can’t WAIT to have the jeweler show me the finished product! To see the jewelry go from concept to the final piece is definitely my favorite part. The sales part is harder–I’ve gotten better at that–but the creative part is what drives me.

You can meet with Shawn at her studio on Central Park West in NYC. Or go in to Fred Segal Couture when you’re in L.A. Given her limited distribution, it might be difficult to see her designs in person, but her website does a surprisingly good job of representing her designs (you can check out her sale section, too!). Since I’ve seen her designs in person, I can vouch for their integrity and beauty. I can almost guarantee that people will stop and ask you about what you are wearing. Shawn Warren’s jewelry can be your secret weapon, too.

Karma Diamond Triple Circle Earrings

Karma Diamond Triple Circle Earrings

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