“To die for” is a phrase that came up multiple times when starting to research the jewelry designs of Jemma Wynne. You might think that I encounter this phrase often in my line of work, but even though I exist in the passionate place where the worlds of fashion and jewelry collide, this phrase is dramatic. What could be prompting this over-the-top expression?
It turns out that even the most non-hyperbole-prone observer would spontaneously say something theatrical when seeing these designs. They are just that daring.
Welcome to the world of Jemma Wynne, where high fashion meets jewelry meets Smithsonian-worthy gem specimens.
Jemma Wynne consists of two designers, Jenny and Stephanie, working side-by-side in their 5th Ave Atelier. Jenny grew up as the only girl in a family with three boys, and consequently spent a lot of time with her talented painter/artist mother. She credits the time her mother spent helping Jenny pursue her creative endeavors–painting classes, mosaics–for her focus on design as art. Stephanie, always creative and coloring in sketch books as a child, studied graphic design in college, paving the way for a career in something beautiful. They met while working for established jewelry designer Judith Ripka. They almost immediately recognized an affinity in design and purpose, and started Jemma Wynne officially in 2008.
Their goal was to create jewelery in precious materials that was not stuffy, fussy, or so trendy that women would hesitate to buy it for themselves. They passionately wanted jewelry that appealed to sophisticated women, but wanted it to be worn, mixed and layered. They manage to create jewelry that is dramatic and incredibly beautiful, but wearable, too.
The Jewelry of Jemma Wynne
Looking at their collection, you get the sense that jewelry is FUN. Gorgeous gemstones combine in unexpected ways. Shapes are definitely mixed up and recombined in ways that challenge traditional ideas of fine jewelry. Interesting details are layered, so that those who study and take a second look are rewarded.
The Interview with Stephanie and Jenny of Jemma Wynne
idazzle: How did the two of you meet?
Jenny: Coincidentally, Stephanie and I have followed very similar paths. We both were very artistic and creative growing up and while in college we stumbled into the world of jewelry making. It started as a hobby for both of us, and as we wore our pieces we began to develop small followings.
Stephanie: As my pieces gained popularity, I decided to put together a small collection and began selling to boutiques in New York City and New Jersey. After I graduated from American University with a Bachelors degree in graphic design, I began working in the design department of Judith Ripka as an assistant to the designer.
Jenny: As I started selling more of my pieces, I decided to start a small business selling my jewelry at private trunk shows where I developed a devout clientele. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I loved what I was doing and this was my passion, so during my next two summers I interned at Judith Ripka in the design and product development department. After I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, I was hired full time and that is where Stephanie and I met in 2005. It was really our passion and creativity that drove us to start our own company only a few years later in 2008.
How did the original idea of Jemma Wynne germinate? What was the catalyst to forming a fine jewelry design company?
Jenny: Steph and I very quickly realized our shared passion for jewelry making and similar design aesthetic. We felt like we had new ideas and wanted to share our vision.
Stephanie: We believe that there is a story behind every piece of jewelry- it is something that is special and unique. Whether it is a gift from a loved one for a special occasion or a gift for oneself, it holds some significant meaning to its owner. We love to be a part of that feeling and process. Jewelry also allows us to be creative and we believe that a woman’s jewelry should be something that is treasured and always relevant.
Jenny: We draw inspiration from our own personal styles; Stephanie’s more polished and classic sensibility combined with my relaxed femininity is reflected in our designs. This approach appeals to both mothers and daughters alike, making Jemma Wynne a cross-generational brand. We create for any woman who appreciates fine craftsmanship, unexpected detail and embraces her individual style.
What was your first collection?
Jenny: The first piece we ever made was a bangle with a rubelite pear shape on one side with an oval rosecut diamond on the other. We got such an amazing response to it that it sparked the development of our signature bangles that has become a staple and the best sellers in our collection.
What is your favorite gemstone/material combination so far?
Stephanie: Our favorite gemstones are bicolor tourmalines- they are so vibrant! We strive to create jewelry that is exquisite and out of the ordinary. Our one of a kind line of limited edition pieces, made with rare bicolor tourmalines, takes raw and organic materials and modernizes them into chic, elegant creations unlike anything else in the world of fine jewelry.
How and where do you have your designs actually fabricated? Are there challenges in sourcing your unusual gemstones and getting top-quality production of your finished pieces?
Stephanie: All of our pieces are handmade here in New York City. We are really lucky to be within walking distance to the Jewelry District in NYC where we are able to work with suppliers that acquire their materials from all over the world. Our diamond suppliers source all our diamonds from Antwerp and Israel. A few times a year, as we start to make our new collections, our stone suppliers from Brazil, Germany, and India make a special trip to our office to show us all their new merchandise. Once a year Jenny also takes an exotic trip and comes back with new and interesting materials. It’s always exciting to see what she will bring back.
Jenny: The craftsmanship and quality of our pieces is something that is extremely important to us, so having them fabricated down the street from our office where we can oversee the process from start to finish is a priority for us and avoids any major unwanted surprises in the finished piece.
How would you describe your key customer? Do you have a specific muse?
Jenny: We define our design aesthetic as the “cashmere hoodie” of jewelry–rich, but comfortable. The vision of Jemma Wynne is to create versatile jewelry for women who desire a sophisticated look, while still maintaining that casual ease. Our jewelry epitomizes the concept of everyday luxury and we feel that fine jewelry should not have to live in a jewelry box, waiting for the perfect occasion to be pulled out and worn. With this in mind, we create collections to provide our customer with high quality, unique pieces that are comfortable and practical enough to wear with jeans and a t-shirt, yet are special enough to complement the finest couture.
Stephanie: Our jewelry is cross-generational in that it appeals to both mothers and daughters alike; we create for women who appreciate fine craftsmanship, unexpected detail and embrace their individual styles.
How does it feel to have your designs worn by The First Lady?
Jenny: It is truly an honor to have our pieces worn by Mrs. Obama, one of our generation’s true fashion icons. She truly epitomizes the Jemma Wynne woman- her clothes and style are rich, yet she maintains that casual element which makes it seem effortless.
Do you create anything custom for special clients?
Stephanie: We started in this business creating custom pieces for our loyal private clients. It is such a fun process to have people come in and custom design a personalized piece of Jemma Wynne jewelry. Clients come to our Atelier where we show them an assortment of stones, see what they gravitate towards, and together we design an exquisite piece of one of kind jewelry for them.
What’s on the horizon in 2011? Anything you can tell us without having to kill us?
Jenny: 2011 will be an exciting year for Jemma Wynne. Our collection is constantly evolving and we are focusing on creating even more spectacular bangles, and, of course, expanding on our Limited Edition bicolor tourmaline pieces. We have many other things in store, but nothing we can share just yet ☺.
These women are designing some truly amazing jewelry, and I love everything about their vision, from their design philosophy, to how they have their jewelry made with such care in the U.S.! Their jewelry can be found in a few select stores in the country, including Churchill in Kansas City and Ikram in Chicago. To inquire about their jewelry, visit their website at www.jemmawynne.com.