I love it when an emerging jewelry designer hits a home run right from the start. Jordan Alexander Jewelry is a new designer jewelry company that has started at the venerable top: First Lady Michelle Obama is a big fan, and photographed often in their jewelry. It turns out this attention is for good reason–this is a jewelry collection that manages to combine classic precious materials like pearls and pave diamonds with non-traditional materials like sandalwood and silk in inventive ways that reshape modern fine jewelry.
Jordan Alexander Jewelry Background
So who can make pearls go from tepid to trend? The designer responsible for Jordan Alexander’s aesthetic is Theresa Bruno. A native of Alabama, Theresa grew up surrounded by the tradition of jewelry in the south. The pearls and jewelry collections of her mother and grandmother definitely made an impression, with their fine workmanship and classic styles. But when Theresa began designing her own jewelry in 2010, she wanted something serious but with a twist: a way to wear materials that are recognizably fine, but in a fresh way that can go from office to grocery store to night out effortlessly.
The Jewelry of Jordan Alexander
In addition to a selection of core designs, Jordan Alexander releases new collections of jewelry each season. Looking over the collection for Fall 2011, I was struck by the variety of materials: Jasper, Tiger Eye, Chysolite, Pyrite, tea-dyed bone, wood, Moonstone, and antique Yemen prayer beads, to name just a few. The jewelry is a reset of combination expectations, with rough-textured black lava happily coexisting with luminous pearls or twinkling pave beads.
My favorites? I would layer the 42 inch Navy or Beige Pearl strands with the 28 inch versions with a tassle. Or the long Sandalwood or Bone beads with shorter leather macrames woven with creamy pearls and diamonds. I could have the mother of all arm parties with an ivory or beige pearl bracelet, layered with crocheted multi-strands with sparkling black spinels, and finished with macrame woven with a pave diamond disc. I genuinely covet almost any of her earring designs, but especially love the pave buttons paired with the antique Yemen prayer bead drops: drama, beauty and history all in one sophisticated package.
The Interview with Jordan Alexander Jewelry
idazzle.com: When did Jordan Alexander Jewelry officially launch, and what was the ultimate impetus to make the jump into fine jewelry design?
Teresa Bruno of Jordan Alexander: Jordan Alexander officially launched in August 2010. I had been designing my own pieces for about three years when I decided to start the company. I wanted a look that combined my grandmother’s classic sense of style with my own edgier sense. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to create my own. High-fashion individuals would repeatedly lift the pieces from around my neck and ask to purchase them, and eventually, my business partner and I laid the groundwork to take us to where we are today.
Where are your designs made, New York or Los Angeles? How has your history in Alabama influenced your designs?
I design when I am in both New York and L.A. I feed off of the amazing, creative individuals I work with, and am always pleasantly surprised by where I end up. Because a number of my pieces use such an unusual type of tying method, they are reproduced in LA. Being in Birmingham keeps me true to my southern roots and southern influence.
Do you feel that your background in classical music has impacted your designs?
I have always had a love and appreciation for beauty and artistry. In fact, I spent my childhood and early adult years training to be a classical musician. This training helped define me as a person and influenced my life’s creative journey as a musician, designer, arts educator and film producer.
Can you tell us about your design process? For instance, how do you come up with such imaginative combinations of gems?
The actual design process may consist of working from sketches that are exact – working from drawings of designs that I envision – or, sometimes, it’s more fluid and evolves from seeing a specific material or certain finding I want to build on. I’m constantly trying to find creative uses for the materials I find. I look for elements to bring unexpected twists to my designs. I love combining traditional, classic elements like diamonds and other precious stones with rich, organic pieces like lava and moonstone. Perhaps my most recent example is how I’ve been working with diamond and pearl slices to create unique and more economical pieces.
What is the most interesting gem or material you have acquired so far? Have you been able to incorporate that into a design yet?
I certainly think the most interesting piece you’ll find in my designs is the 300-year-old Yemen prayer bead. These beads are pieces of antiquity that mothers prayed over for their children. Aside from being beautiful pieces, the history behind them makes them even more meaningful and valuable to use in my designs.
How does it feel to have the attention of people like WWD editors and the First Lady?! Did you have any sense when launching that your designs would resonate so quickly?
It’s an overwhelming honor, and I pinch myself from time to time to remind myself that this really happening. I put all of my creative energy into my work, and I see the amazing people I work with doing the same thing. To know that what we’re doing is impacting people on a level so much greater than ourselves is truly rewarding.
What is on the horizon for Jordan Alexander?
Right now, we’re expanding our presence across the country. As far as the actual line goes, we introduced our first set of enhancers and rings in Fall 2011. I’m looking forward to taking new concepts and expanding the collection to include more of those pieces.
How and Where to Buy Jordan Alexander Jewelry
Many of the pieces are made in LA, but Theresa stays close to her roots by maintaining an office of the company in Birmingham, AL. You can contact them through the Jordan Alexander Facebook page. To see any of the items pictured here, or inquire about Jordan Alexander jewelry, you can find an extensive collection at Fragments New York City store in SoHo, or Fragments website. Contact them here or call 212.334.9588 to find out more. Jordan Alexander’s designs can also be found at other boutiques across the country, including Shari’s Place in Greenvale, NY and Marissa Collections in Naples, FL.