Some might think, looking at her jewelry, that jewelry designer Alexandra Mor created the jewelry in a different era. Like the 1920′s, perhaps, and you’ve happened to stumble upon them from an important auction. There is a timelessness about them, a drama that is totally distinct and memorable. But I can assure you, the jewelry is utterly modern, of the moment, and so is the woman who creates it.
Alexandra’s jewelry is striking in its balance of geometry and organic beauty. She manages to combine gemstones of extraordinary beauty in settings that I would describe as…powerful. There must have been something incredibly inspiring about the tactile world of her childhood, as the daughter of a couture designer. Inspiration was literally at her fingertips, as her mother guided the folds of fabric through the sewing machine, and Alexandra sat on her lap.
Alexandra has a signature aesthetic that is somehow consistent from piece to piece, even though each item she creates is seemingly unique. These details that define her jewelry are apparent in her Couture work (true one-of-a-kinds), Demi-Couture (where the design may be centered on something she has created before, but with a unique gemstone), and her Signature collection. An impeccable level of execution is consistent in every piece of Alexandra’s jewelry, with each step of each process scrutinized vigilantly.
Alexandra and I recently had a Twitter conversation after I posted that I was somewhat obsessed with a pair of her Tanzanite and Diamond earrings. She said that “today’s obsession is tomorrow’s heirloom”, and I think after seeing some of her jewelry, you will agree.
Alexandra Mor Interview
idazzle.com: I read somewhere recently about an Emerald–a remarkable, one-of-a-kind gem–that you literally dreamed about while contemplating if it was something that could work in one of your designs. You decided to go for it, though the Emerald was pretty exceptional in a couple of ways. Is this often how you work with gemstones, obsessing and then ultimately conceptualizing the finished design?
Alexandra Mor: Well, it can go either way. When I decide to add new pieces to my collection I go on a ‘gem hunt’. Or sometimes, my stone suppliers call when they have a special stone and I just start designing around it. It can take a day or a year for me to decide on a final design. But when it comes to working on a special order for a collector, I simply need their direction and it can take two to three weeks to come up with something for them.
What is the longest you have held onto a gem before finally housing it in just the right design?
I love collecting unique gems. If I see a gem that has unique character I will offer it to a potential client or get it for myself for future projects. The Emerald pear-shape & flower diamond earrings, the set of stones I started working on, were the final piece to be added to my first signature collection–it took me about two years to create.
The green emeralds were sitting in the safe for 40 years! My father-in-law bought them on one of his trips in Thailand and never used or sold them. I guess he didn’t know it, but they were waiting for me. Once they made it to me, the emeralds started off in my sketch book as a pair of studs, then became part of a cocktail ring, eventually turned into a brooch, and back and forward the process went. They were undeniably precious and I would have gone on and on. For these gems, I was interested in a piece that would appeal to a woman’s everyday life as well as her red carpet strutting daydream like, say, the Oscars. Something interchangeable. So that was one part of the inspiration. But as women are one of my primary sources for inspiration, I actually found myself wondering which woman really inspires me. Who’s the person that I’d most like to design for? A woman with passion, confidence, humility and above all authenticity.
The final design came into place after my husband got me a set of matching fancy-color diamond flowers as a gift, to design with. 12 months later I decided I had something that was worthy of them and they took about 5 more months to create. In general, I’m very involved in the production, ensuring that we’re true to the design, that the quality is second to none. I don’t miss a thing because if you do, it can devastate the design. My pieces are all constructed of anywhere between 3 to 6 elements that are finally sutured together so one mistake at the beginning of the process and that’s the end of it. I don’t let that happen.
I still have a number of gems in the safe, waiting for the right time or client to be designed for… (-:
Hmmm, “passion, confidence, humility, authenticity”…I think that’s me! What has been your favorite gemstone to work with so far?
Oh, definitely diamonds. They work with or without other stones. They’re incredible.
You have a very distinct and identifiable style, an interesting way of combining architectural structure with a feminine aesthetic that keeps the jewelry from being too “sharp”. Where does your design inspiration come from?
I’m inspired by pretty much anything. Art. Books. People walking by. Food. Sound. My children. Buildings. A woman’s form. Clouds. Trees. And jewels. Because a jewel has it all. They paint the picture and then I start crafting. My signature details are also very important. They’re the core of every piece that emanates from my line. They guide me in my designs and serve as my anchor. It took me a very long time to uncover them and make sure I felt them, but now, they’re crucial to my process, because they’re the building blocks of my creative DNA. In most cases the center stone is the core of my inspiration, then the signature details com into place, and are being used to elevate and bring out the beauty of the stone. Sometimes that comes about as an accent, and other times as a bold statement. They work hand-in-hand with all those things that inspire and together create something that isn’t cold. It’s warm because it’s inspired by the past, and involves emotion.
You do a lot of custom work. Tell me about the process.
There are three steps.
First, finding the stone that speaks to my heart. And my clients’. The right center stone opens the door for the direction in which I take the design. A perfect example is my Signature Three Stone Diamond Ring. My personal three stone ring, an Asscher cut center diamond, which was given to me by my husband, was such a source of inspiration. Everything revolved around it, and without it there would have been nothing. It dictated and was the source for my creativity. The next step is brainstorming and rendering. I collect and render ideas but don’t get to work until I have enough concepts and ideas to work with. What happens next is that I take a few weeks and lock myself in my studio. Quite literally. Like any creative process, the ideas start flowing and they come at their will, not mine. Right now, I’m at this stage in the process with the second edition to my signature collection. It’s scheduled to be ready by the end of October, if my muse permits.
When designing a piece for a customer, especially a wedding ring, I typically share three design options. After reviewing them together, we pick a favorite and refine it together in stages until we arrive at a final design. It’s a very collaborative approach and I love that aspect. I see the collaboration with the couple very crucial to the success of the ring. Many times the guy will be the one to approach me. He will have no clue how to start but will find great support and comfort knowing I can help him create a piece that will bring the essence of his love, and that his fiancée will wear proudly. When it comes to designing a wedding ring, the sky is the limit.
The final step is production and quality control, and as we all know, God is in the details. After the final drawing is approved by my client we get down to work. Every millimeter of the proposed design is scrutinized. Different ways to move forward are considered, revisited and perfected. Once I feel that we are aligned, actual production begins. The process may take anywhere between 2-4 weeks for simpler pieces, but up to 4 months for the more intricate ones. Whatever it takes.
And since it’s really quite amazing what we can do these days online, I offer an online service where customers can view virtually every stage of their creation’s production from the comfort of their computer. Clients get a real kick out of this especially if it’s their first custom piece. It’s really quite the experience.
It’s amazing that people can work with you so closely–not all designers can do that! What do you find most rewarding about the custom part of your business?
When we’re at the design stage. And the moment the client gets to see our collaborative creation. Nothing beats seeing their reaction.
Tell me, what is your most precious jewelry possession personally?
My engagement ring. It is a symbol of my bond with my husband, my kids and my passion for jewelry design. I also have an old pink gold watch that used to belong to my grandmother. She died when I was 3 years old but I still feel she is my guardian angel. It was something I always wanted to have, so my mother gave it to me before I left to start my life in NYC.
I love that you cherish sentimental pieces, not just the largest or most rare jewels. What’s next for Alexandra Mor?
Next? My journey has just begun. I believe growth never ends, both as an individual and as a business. But good things take a while and need time to mature. My next project is something I haven’t been this excited about in a very long time. The event itself is one of a kind and it will be the first in a series. It’s my “Twice in a Lifetime tm” event and I’m holding it with Dorfman jewelers of Boston. It’s invitation-only for their clients and it’s a chance for me to meet them and help recreate old jewelry that they want to use but might not know how to use. It’s a chance to give jewelry (that might be tucked away and forgotten in a drawer somewhere) a second shot at life. We’re also planning a bridal line to be launched next spring. I’m thrilled to to be able to take my work into another arena and create things for a different customer base. It would also be a limited edition line and the idea is for customers to be able to customize their pieces. I can’t wait to share it with you.
Thank you, Alexandra! You can find Alexandra’s jewelry at Fragments in NYC, contact them at 212-334-9588, or see their website here. There will be an amazing opportunity to meet and work with Alexandra Mor at an event held at Dorfman Jewelers in Boston, on October 10th and 11th, click here for more details or to RSVP for this event.
I hope she hasn’t sold that pair of emerald and fancy diamond one-of-a-kind shoulder-duster earrings. I think they were made for me…