How old are you?
How did you launch your business?
Even as a kid I tinkered with design. My mother was a millinery buyer at Bloomingdale’s in the days when no fashionable woman would be seen outside without a hat. Our home was filled with brightly colored ribbons, flowers, pins, felt shapes and all the fixings for elaborate bonnets. I discovered I had a flair for combining forms, textures, and colors. Before long I was helping my mother concoct her elaborate creations. After my husband died in June 2000, I began taking jewelry courses to help me figure out what to do next. I have never enjoyed anything as much as this. In my “second act,” I found my true passion that I love more than anything I’ve ever done.
What were you doing before?
I taught English in Japan and at the New School for Social Research in New York. I was a professional writer and worked with my husband, a Japanese TV producer, on documentaries. I also created costumes for several feature films.
Where are you based?
My studio is in Manhattan where I make each one-of-a-kind and limited edition piece by hand.
What is your typical workday like?
Designing and jewelry making take up a large part of each day. I also write blog posts and do other business and PR tasks. Some days I have private appointments with clients. And I always spend an hour or two studying fashion magazines and favorite websites for inspiration.
Where do the stones and gems come from?
I get my materials from a few trusted vendors. Most of my top quality gems and minerals, such as Peruvian Opal, Brazilian amethyst and tourmaline, rubies and other interesting stones come from Brazil, Australia, Africa and India. The pearls come from China and Australia.
What trends have you noticed with jewelry this year?
I like the bold statement pieces that are in now because I favor drama, bold shapes, and vivid color in my own work. Chains and ropes also are popular and have
South Sea Pearl Brazilian Citrine Collar
always been favorites of mine. Long before the Gatsby and Boho trends hit, I began offering many kinds of ropes with clasps that are versatile and can be doubled, tripled, worn as lariats, or wrapped around the wrist many times.
What are your best-selling items?
The multi-coral torsade I am offering is very popular because it looks great with bright white, picks up the colors in strong prints, and perks up almost every shade. Genuine coral is becoming extinct so people are glad to get this. A raw iridescent quartz collar I designed in several colors has been selling well because it makes a dramatic statement.
Why does your collection looks good on FOFs?
Women over fifty know who they are and aren’t afraid to make unique statements at work and in their personal lives. I design wearable artwork, pieces that are both contemporary and timeless, that echo the qualities of the women who wear them. I use stones, pearls, and tiny crystals that flatter the skin. And my pieces are versatile; easy to wear in a work setting, in casual surroundings or on a dressy occasion.
To win this necklace, first visit Bess’ website; then comment below with the name of your favorite piece and why. 1 FOF will win!
1 FOF will win. (See official rules, here.) Contest closes July 24, 2013 at midnight E.S.T. Contest limited to residents of the continental U.S.