Jewelry Designer Spotlight: An Interview with Kara Ackerman

When I saw the stack of bangles in candy-colored gems in gold, I knew I was hooked. Kara Ackerman’s designs are a lot like the designer herself: fun, fresh, and arresting. I especially love how price-accessible her designs are, as she mixes high-low materials so that collectors can afford multiple pieces to make an impact. In addition to her three signature collections, Kara also works closely with clients in her New York studio to create one-of-a-kind bespoke items that truly reflect the wearer.

The Designer

Primary designer for Kara Ackerman Creations, Ltd, Kara has possessed a strong design sense from an early age, and combined that with a single-minded passion for jewelry to start her own design company. Since 1998, she has created a number of collections that incorporate precious materials like gold and gems with other interesting materials like wood and leather. She’s garnered some great press and a devoted following of celebrities such as Demi Moore, Zoe Saldana, and Christina Applegate.

A lovely stack of Judie bangles by Kara Ackerman, with gem selections in 24k over Sterling Silver, $200 Retail each

The Kara Ackerman Collections

The Kara Ackerman Collection consists of high-end jewelry incorporating faceted gemstones like French amethyst, citrines, colored diamonds and pearls in gold, silver and heavy-plated vermeil. These are the designs that put her on the map in fashion terms, and are collected by connoisseurs.

The GemGirls collection by Kara are personalized charms that can be collected, stacked and worn. Accented with gemstones, they are precious little gifts–or treats for yourself–and are very wearable as pendants or bracelets.

Kara doesn’t forget about men, and has a KSA Designs for Men collection of interesting cufflinks and moneyclips. It can be hard to find great jewelry and accessories for men, and she fills a niche with interesting designs and great craftsmanship.

Kara Ackerman 18kt Hammered Gold Earrings with Rose Cut Diamonds, $900 Retail

The Interview

idazzle: When did you start the Kara Ackerman Designs company?
Kara Ackerman: The official start date of Kara Ackerman Designs was on September 10th, 1998.

What did you do in your previous life?
Before I followed my passion, I worked for Sony Entertainment. I was a productions assistant working on music videos . It was a very special time in my life.

Kara Ackerman Brooke White Topaz Pave Cocktail Ring, $300 Retail

What was the catalyst for making the foray into jewelry design?
I have been designing jewelry as long as I can remember, it is in my blood. My earliest childhood recollections are of beading simple necklaces and playing with my mothers jewelry collection.

How would you describe your fashion/design philosophy in a word or phrase?
Wearable Art.

Kara Ackerman Gold Plated Aluminum Stacking Bangles, $65 for Set of 20

What kind of woman or person do you have in mind when you are creating new designs? Any specific muse?
My mother is my inspiration, her beauty and sense of style are best
described as classic. She has the poise and class of a Jacky O and the
intuitive fashion sense of a Audrey Hepburn. My mother is at the base of
everything I create.

What is the most interesting dilemma you have faced as an entrepreneur in the jewelry industry?

There is a constant pressure to keep up with the ever changing styles in the fashion industry. It is in the moments when things are in the greatest of flux, where I see the best opportunity to set the trend.

Pile 'o Judie Rings to Collect and Stack, Many Gemstones Available in 24k Vermeil, Around $100 Retail Each

What is the most inspiring/rewarding thing about coming to work as a jewelry designer each day?

My designs evolve from the world around me. Like an artist, I interpret what I see in a medium of silver, gold, precious stones, etc. There is an indescribable thrill in bringing those visions to life.

Thank you, Kara, for explaining your inspiration and designs! It will be fun to see what she’s working on for 2011, I’ve heard rumors about some interesting new developments! You can find Kara Ackerman’s designs in her own online boutique, and in a few select physical stores like OC Concept Store in NYC, Dovecote in CT, and Rocks by Rachel in Boca Raton, FL. Her designs can also be found at online retailer Max & Chloe. For information about any of the items featured in this article, or for more information about a custom-designed piece, contact Kara through her website here.

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