An interview with Catherine Marion, designer for this made-in-New York collection crafted in 18kt gold with precious gems.
Loving the new Spring looks - and old favorites - from JEMILY Fine Jewelry’s designer Catherine Marion, we sat down to talk with this attorney who left the law (a successful career as a corporate finance attorney) to follow her dream. Based in Manhattan, where all JEMILY jewelry is made by hand, the line is named for the designer’s two daughter’s Jennifer and Emily. Honored by the World Gold Council, JEMILY’s collections are delicately crafted in 18kt gold and diamonds - with colored stones – Rubies, Sapphires, Tanzanite, Aquamarine, Tourmalines - particularly green (from the designer’s private stash), Peridot, Rubellite, Morganite and Angel’s Hair Quartz - adding wit and whimsy to the polished, timeless style.
Q. Why did you want to become a jewelry designer?
A. Over the years, I inherited an amazing collection of stunning jewels - pieces that date back over the years even to the days when Maharajahs ruled; I have a piece presented to one of these uber-glamorous royals that’s just dazzling! Seems like a million rubies and sapphires in the most remarkable, unusual setting. The fascination has been with me, it seems forever. So when I had the chance, I left my career as an attorney and moved into jewelry design, studying at FIT and then working closely with designers of note. I started JEMILY officially three years ago and I’m so proud to see it grow. We’ve earned a following of real women who love the ease of wearing the looks that seem to work well with their modern lifestyles.
Q. When it comes to creating a new collection how do you find the catalyst that will serve as inspiration?
A. For me, inspiration comes from nature, architecture and the different design elements I uncover in the world around us. New York City is rich with amazing ideas, shapes, patterns, style references that come from the past - and the present - appearing unexpectedly, a decorative detail will just catch my eye.
Q. Do you have a favorite among your collections?
A. Like children I love them all. But right now, the Narcissus collection is very much on my mind, after all it’s an emblem of Spring! For the earrings I designed for JEMILY, I abstracted the basic form (working as always in 18kt gold) and added diamonds to serve as dewdrops. Just love the way they look on BRAVO TV’s Rachel Grant (she’s quite the travel guru, not to mention humanitarian, international beauty queen, British royal, and notable "Bond Girl” no wonder she’s hosting the new show Tour Group), Rachel wore them recently to the Golden Mike Awards.
Q. How vital is nature as a theme when you are designing?
A. Nature is always important to me when I conceive a collection. Demoiselle, which we are launching, this Spring comes from the wings of the Demoiselle dragonflies that hover over the Loire River. The exquisite span is something I chose to render in 18kt gold and sprinkle with diamonds to bring in the sense of light and the sparkle of the water. The “flutter” earrings, themselves seem to be in motion, the shape, the setting moves gently, gracefully; it’s intended to bring to mind the very movement of the Demoiselles themselves.
Q. Architecture is also critical, I see in your work. Is there a particular style that you admire?
A. Idrissa is inspired by the palaces from Spain to Senegal - an architectural look that was popular in the 1920s and 30s so traces of this style are found in Moorish Revival buildings around NYC. Of course, the basic elements of this architecture is within the vocabulary of Art Deco, a style that is above all my favorite - and essentially, the heart of the design sense of the collection. The Idrissa Statement Ring with the Sapphire cabochon expresses this perfectly - it’s modern but you see the hint of the design elements you’d find originally in North Africa but the look travelled over here when Art Deco was first popular.
Q. You take on a more playful look with the Harlequinade collection. In fact, we just saw the idea of reverse set stones in the earrings Saoirse Ronan wore on the red carpet for the Oscars.
A. For Harlequinade I wanted to shake things up, do something that’s different and fun. In fact, the name comes from Commedia Dell’Arte the Italian comedy that used to entertain royals - and everyday people - back in the day, in fact the Harlequinade pantomime is still performed in New York City Ballet’s Balanchine version. The JEMILY Harlequinade earrings have Diamonds and Rubellite juxtaposed so the eye travels spontaneously, teased too by the alternating rhythm of satin and bright finishes on the gold. The reverse setting is apparently coming into vogue now; yes, I was entertained to see a variation on this look at the Oscars. Although it’s always wonderful when a celebrity wears your work, I am gratified to see elegant, sophisticated woman finding that the jewelry I create for JEMILY is a look they love every day.