Personalities

Meet Ani Shirinian of Victoria Six Jewelry

NEW YORK. Ani Shirinian has a passion for pearls. The force behind the two-year-old Victoria Six Jewelry, a moniker comprising her middle name and lucky number, designs “modern pearl jewelry with a retro flare,” she explains.

Shirinian, who was raised by a grandmother fluent in couture clothing design, recalls playfully wrapping herself in spools of French lace and falling hard for ever-present ropes of pearls in the matriarch’s Hollywood, Calif.–based studio.

“I learned from her that pearls went with everything I had to wear,” she recollects.

Ani Shirinian of Victoria Six Jewelry

Ani Shirinian of Victoria Six Jewelry

As an adult, Shirinian became a lawyer, but eventually traded family law for clothing design to follow in grandmother’s fashionable footsteps. That is, until a chance encounter with the late Michael Bogosian of Michael B., renowned for his micro-pavé, led her to rediscover jewelry.

“He taught me every step of the business where I worked for him for the remaining seven years of his life,” she says.

Bogosian’s diamond-intense business brought her to major trade shows, where she always found time to shop for pearl jewelry. But it was also in this sea of trade-fair stands that she struggled to find the fresh, fun pearl designs she wanted—a quest so important that she decided to pursue it herself.

“I never found cool pearl jewelry that was modern but still classic,” she says. She also wasn’t impressed with the silver settings that well-known designers were using with pearls—she wanted gold. “Pearls just felt so neglected,” she laments.

Today she sketches looks and works closely with masters of 3D technology in Los Angeles to bring her pieces to life in 14k or 18k gold. From freshwater to akoya to Tahitians, pearls (and the occasional gemstone) are a key part of contemporary styles like cuff bangles with negative space, whimsical cluster styles, and shepherd’s crook drop-hoop earrings. Her signature? Vintage-kissed (think 1960s- and 1970s-inspired funkiness) pearl-bead effects in metal that are complemented by pearls. Whimsy and bold flair are also abundant, and each piece aims to be as fresh in 50 years as it is today. What’s more, retail prices in 14k gold start at just $180—a more-than-fair entry price for a fashionable but timeless piece of fine pearl jewelry.

Viola bracelet in 14k rose gold fits a 7-inch wrist and has 5 7 mm. freshwater pearls, $282; Victoria Six Jewelry

Viola bracelet in 14k rose gold fits a 7-inch wrist and has 5 7 mm. freshwater pearls, $282

Penrose earrings in 14k rose gold with 8 mm. freshwater button-shape pearls, $694; Victoria Six Jewelry

Penrose earrings in 14k rose gold with 8 mm. freshwater button-shape pearls, $694

 

 

Victoria ring in 14k rose gold with an 11 ct. pear-shape morganite with 20 3.3 mm. akoya pearls, $5,200; Victoria Six Jewelry

Victoria ring in 14k rose gold with an 11 ct. pear-shape morganite with 20 3.3 mm. akoya pearls, $5,200

 

Jennifer Heebner LLC

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Personalities

Meet DEEFINE and Its India-Inspired Gold and Gemstone Jewelry

BASEL, SWITZERLAND. A trio teams up to make India-inspired, Italian-made jewelry in DEEFINE, a firm that debuted at the 2017 Baselworld jewelry fair. Deepa Lakhani, Jay Lakhani, and Marco Mencagli are the forces behind this new line of 14k and 18k gold jewels with gemstones, with production in Italy and New York City.

Design inspiration comes from the Indian heritage of husband-and-wife team Deepa and Jay.

“Our collection reflects modern interpretations of traditional Indian themes,” explained Jay to this journalist from a small section of emerging design talent located at the Basel fair this spring.

Deepa and Jay share more than 10 years of jewelry-making experience reinforced by strong educational roots. Deepa studied at the Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design while Jay studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology and secured a graduate gemology degree from the Gemological Institute of America. Marco, who comes from a family of jewelers in Italy, learned the business behind the beauty at an early age, later cementing that instruction with business administration studies at the University of Siena in Italy. All these combined strengths culminate in hand-sketched modern designs of traditional Indian symbols brought to life by Italian artisans for everyday wear.

The rich cultural heritage of India plays out across three collections within DEEFINE: Peacock, Paisley, and Devi. In Indian tradition, the peacock symbolizes beauty and abundance, with males of the species presenting majestic displays of feathers to attract females. This shape is reimagined in miniature silhouettes of fans-as-feathers in tiny pear-shape gems positioned in U formations. Paisley signifies spirituality and was used as a symbol of harvest periods. Finally, Devi—which means goddess in Sanskrit—is evident in female silhouettes accented by diamonds and pearls. In Indian tradition, Devi can be gentle or forceful, so these styles aim to represent female empowerment.

DEEFINE’s debut is timely, too, for the diverse background of its founders, who combine their talents to illuminate hope and unity through beautiful design.

Since DEEFINE is so new to the market, reach out to the makers directly for purchase at 212-221-1007 and info@deefine.com. Also check their website in September for a new e-shop.

Peacock necklace in 18k yellow gold with blue topaz, $1,625; Deefine, 212-221-1007; info@deefine.com (e-shop opening in September)

Peacock necklace in 18k yellow gold with blue topaz, $1,625; Deefine, 212-221-1007; info@deefine.com (e-shop opening in September)

Peacock ring in 18k gold with black rhodium and 2 cts. t.w. black opals, $2,600; Deefine, 212-221-1007; info@deefine.com (e-shop opening in September)

Peacock ring in 18k gold with black rhodium and 2 cts. t.w. black opals, $2,600; Deefine, 212-221-1007; info@deefine.com (e-shop opening in September)

Devi earrings in 18k yellow gold with 0.36 ct. t.w. sapphires, 0.17 ct. t.w. black diamonds, 0.07 ct. t.w. ruby, and freshwater pearls, $4,500; Deefine, 212-221-1007; info@deefine.com (e-shop opening in September)

Devi earrings in 18k yellow gold with 0.36 ct. t.w. sapphires, 0.17 ct. t.w. black diamonds, 0.07 ct. t.w. ruby, and freshwater pearls, $4,500; Deefine, 212-221-1007; info@deefine.com (e-shop opening in September)

Paisley earrings in 18k yellow gold with 0.44 ct. t.w. diamonds, opal, and white topaz, $6,000; Deefine, 212-221-1007; info@deefine.com (e-shop opening in September)

Paisley earrings in 18k yellow gold with 0.44 ct. t.w. diamonds, opal, and white topaz, $6,000; Deefine, 212-221-1007; info@deefine.com (e-shop opening in September)

 

Jennifer Heebner LLC

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Personalities

Meet Designer Jacqueline Cullen and her Whitby Jet, Black Diamond, and Gold Jewelry

LONDON. A tiny sample of Whitby jet spied at a rock and gem fair in England in 2002 is the reason for London-based jewelry designer Jacqueline Cullen’s love affair with the material. In a previous life, Cullen, founder of the eponymous jewelry design firm, studied visual and performing arts, with theater and sculpture installations in mind. She shifted gears to obtain a bachelor of arts in jewelry design from Central Saint Martins, where she explored the possibilities of using jet in modern jewelry.

Jewelry designer Jacqueline Cullen

Jewelry designer Jacqueline Cullen

“I first used jet for my degree final collection at Saint Martin’s in 2003,” she explains. “It suits me aesthetically—I like black and gold—and creatively, because we work with the material in a very sculptural way using lapidary equipment. It has also made sense businesswise as nobody else has thought of reinterpreting this heritage material in such a modern way.”

Today, Cullen’s 11-year-old jewelry firm makes the pitch-black gem—a type of fossilized wood found in the coastal town of Whitby, England—the core of her signature style, along with 18k yellow gold settings.

Her jet is faceted into geometric shapes, hand-carved fissures, and landscapes that look like crevices, volcanic eruptions, and “lightning strikes ripping open the sky,” she says.

Her supply comes from Whitby, home to most of the world’s jet—including the most stable—and where it became popular in the 19th century. (Jet is found in a few other countries, including Spain.) The process of obtaining jet in Whitby is a dramatic one that involves Cullen’s “supplier rappelling down cliffs on the North Yorkshire coast to source raw specimens from disused mines and ancient caves,” she explains. You won’t catch Cullen doing any of that, nor will you nab the name of her supplier. “His identity is kept secret and I hate heights!” she admits.

Cullen enlists the help of local lapidary cutters to help preform the jet, which she hand-facets and finishes in her workshop. An in-house goldsmith handles the jewelry fabrication and setting of diamonds, which are as black as the jet. Cullen sets only 1 mm round black diamonds into her jet styles. Why this tone-on-tone look?

“Black diamonds are the only stone that can be set directly in the jet and not need a metal backing to keep their light,” she says. “There are hundreds of them that give the look of pinpricks of light playing on the surface of the jet.”

 

Large ring in 18k yellow gold with a 1-inch hand-carved Whitby Jet sphere with inlaid black diamonds, $2,300; Jacqueline Cullen at Gold Bug

Large ring in 18k yellow gold with a 1-inch hand-carved Whitby jet sphere with inlaid black diamonds, $2,300; Jacqueline Cullen at Gold Bug

 

 

Drop pendant necklace in 18k yellow gold with Whitby Jet and black diamonds, $4,190; Jacqueline Cullen at Stanley Korshak

Drop pendant necklace in 18k yellow gold with Whitby jet and black diamonds, $4,190; Jacqueline Cullen at Stanley Korshak  

 

Medium Faceted earrings in 18k yellow gold with Whitby Jet and black diamonds, $2,675; Jacqueline Cullen at Be On Park

Medium faceted earrings in 18k yellow gold with Whitby jet and black diamonds, $2,675; Jacqueline Cullen at Be On Park

 

Jennifer Heebner LLC

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