Working out of a 16th century barn in the English countryside, jeweler Monica Vinader creates covetable rose gold bracelets laced in pave diamonds, fully engravable textured pendants and simple earrings, covered in colored gemstones, that have been cut by hand. “Our stone pieces—all of them are bespoke cut—so we draw them, and then we have them cut. There’s a whole host of things we really labor over,” Vinader said by phone.
With multiple stores in London and a variety of online retailers, like Net-a-Porter and Saks, Vinader’s first U.S. store had its soft opening just last week. Complete with Tom Dixon lighting fixtures and a full engraving bar, which offers complimentary services, the space matches the designer’s simple but chic aesthetic. At the engraving bar, you can even opt to have a handwritten message or drawing etched into your new pendant or flat bracelet. “The shop is very informal,” the jeweler explained, but that just means it’s perfect for browsing, or selecting a thoughtful, personalized holiday gift.
“As a brand, we’ve been getting a lot more customers in the U.S. both on our website and on our points of sales in Nordstrom and Saks,” she said. “Now we have a home for the brand, so our customers can experience the full service and can actually walk into the store with the full range. New York is always a fantastic place to start and one of my favorite cities.” We spoke to Vinader to learn more about her favorite things to do in New York, her personal jewelry collection, her design process and more.
You personally designed the interior, down to every little detail. Tell us a little bit about some of your favorite pieces.
It was just such a beautiful, quintessential SoHo space with brick walls and high ceilings. We reclaimed all the floors with wood and stained them a really light color. For the furniture, everything’s a real mix of midcentury and I’ve got my own collection of art on the walls. I have a huge photograph by an artist whose work I collect in the back of the showroom; the photographer is a guy called Harry Cory Wright. This photograph is of the marshes outside my house in Oxford. I bought amazing 1950’s tables and chairs, vintage lighting, an amazing installation of Tom Dixon lighting. It’s gold disco balls that go over a long catwalk of cabinets.
What are some of your favorite things to do in New York?
Oh my god, I have so many. I’ve been coming to New York since I was very little and my parents lived in New York before I was born. I love galleries in New York—anywhere from the Guggenheim to the Judd Foundation just up the road, on Spring Street. I love the smaller galleries and I love the Whitney [and] the Met, I always find so much inspiration there. I love doing brunch at Má Pêche. I love going to Rachel Comey, which I hadn’t really been to before, but it’s such an amazing retail experience.
How would you define your aesthetic?
The simplicity of the aesthetics is what I’m quite proud of, because making simple things and being innovative with simplicity is quite hard.
What are your favorite materials to work with in your designs?
Eighteen karat gold on sterling silver. I discovered it because my mother was an antique dealer and she had pieces like that. I loved the fact that it had the quality of silver and the look of gold, which I thought was so fantastic. We do work with diamonds a lot, and I love the way you can transform a piece by putting some pavé diamonds on it. I think that’s something we’ve had a lot of fun with in the past few years. I think stone-wise, recently we’ve been working a lot with a stone called amazonite, which is a beautiful green and has an incredibly personality.
What’s your design process like?
I always carry sketchbooks and I’ve got my watercolor pencils, and I sketch on a continuous basis; it’s always the beginning of every collection. I’ve got a team of two designers and myself. We start sampling and make a lot of 3-D Prints and we really refine the process. I’m quite exact, if it’s not perfect, we start again. The process is intense.
What jewelry pieces do you wear everyday?
I’m sort of covered in jewelry, as you can imagine. There’s a few pieces I never take off though. One is my Fiji bracelet, because it’s one of my first designs. It’s got my daughter’s name engraved on it. The other one is a diamond ring that I wear on my pinky. Then, I wear a Baja bracelet, it’s adjustable and fully pavéd with diamonds in rose gold. And then, I just swap different things. At the moment, I’m wearing a layered necklace with four or five different pendants that I just keep adding on to. One has an engraved drawing my daughter did of our dog. Another one has her name on it, and the other one [with] a diamond. I wear them over polo necks and jumpers.
What has been your favorite moment since starting the brand?
When I convinced my sister to leave Amazon to come and join my company with me. That was my biggest moment, because she’s an incredible partner and she’s super smart and I think the two of us made this journey together since 2008. We’ve been able to build what we built together, as two entrepreneurial sisters. We’ve got a very strong family bond. Working together has been incredible.
Monica Vinader’s first U.S. boutique is located at 151 Spring Street, SoHo, New York.