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A Silver Jewelry Designer Returns to Her Songstress Roots and Releases an Album

Smile is the name of Saundra Messinger's new pop album, a project 30 years in the making.

New York City. Jan. 3, 2019. A lifetime ago, silver jewelry designer Saundra Messinger, known for her organic-looking sterling styles sometimes set with burnished diamonds, sang jingles for a living.

As a child, she appeared as a guest on the Ted Mack program, and in adulthood, she was the onetime voice of Windjammer Cruises. (Click here to listen to Messinger’s dramatic, 80s-intense melody written by Jeremy Goldsmith that captures the early part of the era’s syrupy serenade-like productions.) She even sang about “hating roaches” for a pesticide company! And when she needed someone to help her record a demo tape, she met husband Chuck Irwin, a recording engineer and record producer.

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But after years of fun musical and acting projects, her interests shifted and Messinger took a position with clothing brand Eileen Fisher. Messinger’s interest in fashion landed her a job as a jewelry buyer, and it was during this time, as she requested specific pieces for manufacturing, that a lightbulb moment occurred: she was a designer herself, a point noted by one of the designers on her team and a direction that the artist encouraged Messinger to pursue.

Messinger started organizing her thoughts and ideas for a collection, and her friend and mentor introduced her to casters and wax carvers on 47th Street. By the fall of 1999, Messinger had a sample line comprising geometric forms in silver with her signature uneven surfaces (“They are not hammered, they are carved in wax,” she maintains) and matte finishes. By May 2000, she participated in her first Accessories Circuit show. She was also one of the first artists to set diamonds into sterling jewelry.

Her design prowess escalated quickly, and singing became a memory, though one last project lingered in the recesses of her mind. She and Chuck had recorded an album rich in pop-like vocals with old standards and original tunes written by songwriters and musicians who were friends of Messinger’s husband. “When we recorded this, he was the famous one and I was the unknown singer,” she recollects.

By the time they finished recording, resources were depleted. As it was expensive and time-consuming to release an album, they shelved it. “We simply ran out of money,” says Messinger.  

Now, 30 years later, the time is right to release it. “We are finally ready to just close this loop and get this album out there,” she says. “Chuck never let it go—he wanted to finish what we started.”

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The name of the body of work? Smile. Her jewelry is incorporated into the album’s design, created by Robert Genovesi of, by way of the uneven curve from one of Messinger’s bangles on the cover. A Smile necklace with diamonds dotting the base will debut in the first weekend of February (trade buyers can see it at the upcoming Melee show), when collectors will be able purchase it online. The Smile necklace looks just like the name suggests—like a smile. Find the album on Amazon, Spotify, and iTunes. Find Messinger’s jewelry online.

The Smile necklace in sterling silver with diamonds will debut in early February on Saundra Messinger’s website.
The cover of Saundra Messinger’s album called Smile.

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