Last week, I ventured into the city’s hallowed jewelry grounds, New York’s Diamond District, the strip of West 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, a laborious labyrinth of diamond dealers, workshops and jewelry arcades. Luckily, my point in crossing into this raw mini-mecca of jewelry was not to aimlessly wonder from one storefront to the next but to meet with up-and-coming couture jewelry designer Alexandra Mor.
In her office hovering over the hustle and bustle and wheeling and dealing of 47th Street below, Mor shared with me her story and her passion for jewelry. As she began, I felt a kindred connection, for Mor’s foray into jewelry was quite similar to mine: she wasn’t born into a family of jewelers nor did she dream of working in the jewelry industry the moment she first saw a glittering diamond. Alexandra’s calling came much later in life, after a successful career in the film industry.
Her husband’s family has long been in the jewelry industry, much like my loved one’s, and he was born into a family of diamond cutters. It was through him that fate struck for Mor. After accompanying her husband Alon on a buying trip, the allure of the gems fascinated her. Then, one day soon after, Alon suggested that she join him to an introductory class of jewelry making, and from the moment she sat on the bench she was hooked.
Design, after all, is in Mor’s blood, her French mother was a talented couturier and ran an atelier in Israel, where Mor would spend her afternoons after school helping her mother cut threads, fetch fabrics and finalize designs. This early exposure to fashion design resurfaced as an inspiration for her jewelry today. Along with fashion and fabrics, other design influences such as architecture, fashion history and, of course, vintage jewelry techniques inspire Mor’s jewelry.
“My aesthetic revolves around simplicity, symmetry and relationship between the stone, the personality of the client, and my intuition — this will eventually lead to the design and help bring out the true nature of an object,” she explains. “When I design, my mind is like a three-dimensional stage; I play with the stones, like soft fabric—the final piece is clear in my mind’s eye, and I am then ready to go to the drawing board.”
In the beginning, before letting her ideas run wild with sketches, the elegantly poised Mor immersed herself in study, taking a number of jewelry classes to understand the aspects of jewelry design from the inside out. After years of developing her Signature collection, Mor introduced the first pieces of her collection to the public at New York auction house Phillips de Pury in 2010.
Four years later, Mor has accomplished a lot in such a short period of time. Currently, she is busy finalizing the design of her salon at Dorfman’s in Boston, a prestigious jeweler on the famous Newbury Street luxury strip. On top of building onto her Signature collection, Mor has expanded her made-to-order business and focuses on creating more one-of-a-kind haute couture jewels.
Recently, Gemfields tapped Mor to collaborate on making one-of-a-kind pieces featuring exquisite stones ethically sourced by Gemfields. Their partnership included an international advertising campaign, starring actress Mila Kunis wearing a stunning 26.16 carat sugarloaf cabochon emerald set in a sleek, contemporary ring by Mor. The ring, unfortunate only for me, had just been sold at the time of our meeting.
Not one to leave me hanging, she showed me an equally exquisite amethyst version of similar design, the amethyst weighing a whopping 67.81 carats.
With her one-of-a-kind, made-to-order endeavors, Mor involves her clients every step of the way because she believes that jewelry is incredibly personal and factors in their personalities into the overall design. After the initial consultation, the client can expect to receive a series of frame-worthy sketches depicting variations of what will eventually become the final design. Throughout the creation process, from first sketches to finished product, photos and detailed updates on the piece’s progress tell a story, the journey of a jewel, which Mor elegantly captures in an accompanying book after the client finally receives the finished jewel.
Mor, a mother of three, travels back and forth between New York and Boston weekly, and I was touched that she was able to pencil me into her incredibly hectic schedule to share her story. At the moment, she’s taking things one step at a time, working on evolving her brand into one that is more focused on a limited-edition and one-of-a-kind concept. Mass produced jewels are not a part of her design philosophy. Instead, Mor continues to concentrate on creating collectible jewels, or “heirlooms in the making,” as she fondly ascribes to her works of jeweled art. In my opinion, she’s well on her way.
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