Some jewelers appreciate the challenges that come with creating recycled jewelry designs for customers, and some are just not interested, often lacking the vision, as well as the time and resources that such projects require.
Jewelry industry veterans Jaime Polk and Katherine Rosenberg-Pineau fall squarely into the first category. In fact, having accumulated almost 50 years of experience between them, they recently gave up their work in the corporate world to focus on a business model that was all about reimagining the jewelry that customers already own but wish to update, refresh or wear again. .
After leading design teams and leading global sales forces for Hearts on Fire and Frederick Goldman, they were tired of the old way of doing things. They decided to name their brand 21C Designs (like in the 21st century), firmly embracing a new concept based on modern definitions of how jewelry should be worn and enjoyed.
“We were so frustrated with what was going on in the jewelry industry – the lack of change,” Polk says. “It was stagnant, we weren’t learning and we didn’t feel like the industry was changing enough. What made me want to be an entrepreneur more than anything else was wanting to change with the consumer and feeling that the industry wasn’t doing it.
Rosenberg-Pineau appreciates the creative freedom that the company offers him and likes that they can produce and deliver on time. She and Polk both attribute the fact that 21C Designs is a partnership, not a one-person operation, as the key to their success.
“We complement each other,” says Rosenberg-Pineau. “I loved being in the corporate world because you’re part of a team and a company, and that’s a version of that, but it’s a lot more rewarding. Everything that we have each worked so hard for 25 years can now be done and implemented for ourselves.
“Plus, Jaime and I work really hard,” she adds. “We gave 150% to someone else, and now we can put all that energy into ourselves and our business. “
21C Designs operates in a red-door bungalow overlooking a swamp just off Main Street in Madison, Connecticut, a coastal resort about two hours from New York City. Design ideas are sketched out on-site and then executed by a trusted network of diamond suppliers and jewelers in New York and Boston (where Rosenberg-Pineau is based; she travels to Connecticut a few days a week) to help lead projects to life.
Since its low-key launch a few years ago, Polk and Rosenberg-Pineau have expanded their services to include designing personalized engagement rings and working with clients across the country.
Consultations tend to take place via Zoom and Skype, but women also see their share of foot traffic, especially in the summer and fall when Madison’s Main Street is busiest. Prior to the pandemic, Polk and Rosenberg-Pineau also worked with local and driving distance clients who hosted jewelry parties at their homes; the guests would bring their jewelry boxes for examination and explore the possibilities. This service will resume in the future.
A one-on-one service, Marie Kondo, is also under development, in which jewelers will work with a client at her home to appraise her jewelry collection, modify it with keen and insightful eyes while providing expert advice. style and solutions to reinvent heritage. or obsolete parts.
The team also builds relationships with a network of New England area real estate attorneys to help appraise inherited jewelry and advise executors on what to sell, keep and, if they wish, recycle as a way to honor and remember their loved one. a.
Sure, some customers see 21C Designs as a low-key way to liquidate their gold coins and put some cash in, say, preppy plaid curtains for Florida room refreshment. Polk and Rosenberg-Pineau are always happy to help you in this way, no questions asked.
Each customer’s story and needs are unique, they say, and that’s what makes it fun.
Top: A client’s diamond rings, including one with ruby side stones, are given new life as a single cluster that offers the look of multiple styles stacked together: crafted in polished gold with super-clean frames, it’s now a modern classic that can be worn every day. (All images courtesy of 21C Designs)
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