WOMEN WHO PAVED THE WAY

Women make the world go round — and this saying also rings true when it comes to your jewelry. From traditions to trends, the fierce female is at the root of it all. As we reach the halfway point on this year’s Women’s History Month, we feel called to reflect on what it means to be a woman-owned jewelry brand — and, in turn, pay homage to those who have paved the way before us. Not only are their stories foundational to our own, but they also act as a guiding force for growth and inspiration.

When it comes to jewelry greats, few are as influential as Charlotte Isabella Newman. Beginning her professional jewelry journey in the 1860’s, Newman has been credited as the first female jewelry designer of influence. Up until her arrival on the scene, jewelry manufacturing was predominantly a boy’s club, despite its female leaning customer base. A highly skilled goldsmith, Newman studied under Jeweler John Brogden, helping him to achieve new heights and accolades along the way. While the role she had carved out for herself was anything but common, Newman was able to translate her collaborative successes into a powerful solo career. A true unicorn at the time, Newman’s shop was a groundbreaking success for the fairer sex. Not only was she thriving in a male dominated field, but she also had men working for her — a concept that was unheard of at the time. While her pioneer status is solidified in jewelry history, this HBIC further utilized the past to inspire her future. Finding her niche in a variety of vintage styles, Newman boldly redefined pieces from times that would have previously excluded her perspective as a craftswoman and moreover a woman in general.

As the industry’s tone began its shift from for women to by women, the next icon on our list decided to take her style inspo in the opposite direction. Hailed as a modern maven of surrealist design, Elsa Schiaparelli took the 1930’s by storm. Whimsical and other worldly, Vogue revered Schiaparelli as someone who was “responsible for the feeling of spontaneous youth that has crept into everything.” An original who represented the duality of being ahead of her time yet somehow right on time, the creative powerhouse was well respected in the art world and went on to collaborate with elites such as Salvador Dalì and Jean Cocteau. Famous for incorporating surrealist imagery like bugs into her costume jewelry, Schiaparelli set the scene for many future designers to follow suit such as Alexander McQueen, Lanvin and Thierry Mugler.

While jewelry and art have been historically intertwined in a myriad of ways, the final female on our list takes that partnership to a whole new level. Starting off as a costume designer in the late 60’s, Paloma Picasso garnered early attention for her rhinestone jewelry. After pursuing a formal education in the craft, the youngest daughter of famed artist Pablo Picasso began to permeate the fine jewelry industry. Off to an impressive start, she landed her first commission with luxury fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent. The young Picasso continued to make a name for herself, growing her portfolio until she entered what would become a longstanding partnership with Tiffany’s. Building a namesake collection under the brand aptly titled Paloma’s Graffiti, Picasso leveraged the high-end status of the Tiffany’s brand to create a positive impact and association with urban street art, which at the time was held in low regard. In the words of the designer: in the ’70s, people were starting to tag subways and walls, which had everyone outraged. I wanted to look at graffiti differently and try to make something positive out of it. As an influential and progressive designer, Picasso has received numerous awards for her contributions in fashion and continues to be a mainstay in the Tiffany’s brand to this day.

Through each of these incredible women and those like them, we are able to identify the ways that they have shaped so much more than the jewels in our closet. Whether it be redefining gender roles, sharing fresh ideas, or creating unifying perspectives, the impact these women and their designs had is palpable. Beyond beauty, these conversation pieces provoke possibility and spark change and that is the magic we make. “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” — Diane Mariechild  

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