Stephanie Gottlieb is almost ready to celebrate 10 years of Stephanie Gottlieb Fine Jewelry, which she founded in the summer of 2013 as a "one woman show" that evolved into larger team over time.
"I really wanted to just be private, concierge, service friends, and word of mouth. But obviously with social media, that kind of got taken to a whole new level," she tells Modern Luxury.
The New York City-based jewelry designer also spoke to us about her insipirations, upcoming trends, and which famous movie necklace she'd pick in real life.
Read our full chat below.
When did you first realize that you had a passion for creating jewelry and what inspired you to become a jewelry designer?
I really fell into this industry by accident, a happy accident. But I graduated college, didn't really know what I was going to do, and took the first internship opportunity that was offered, and it was for a diamond wholesale company, like, literally across the street from this office we're now in. And I just figured, you know, okay, I'll try something, I'll see if I like it, and if not, I'll work on applying to other jobs that are more permanent. Turns out I love diamonds. I mean, who doesn't? But it really was being in it that convinced me that this is where I belonged. The science of diamonds, and just all of the fun energy that goes into designing a piece, not to mention the more personal piece of it, like, who the jewelry is intended for. It was just really special to be a part of that creation process, and I knew I had to do more of it.
How would you describe your design style?
Our collection is feminine, dainty, wearable. For me, jewelry really is intended to be worn and loved, not something that sits in a drawer. And so much of what we do now is help people actually elevate pieces that have been sitting around for such a long time that they don't wear and turning them into something that they really feel is a reflection of their personal style. So for me, it's jewelry that I can wear and love and really live in.
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What were your favorite jewelry designers growing up?
It's funny, I can't remember any other jewelry aside from Tiffany's, and I think probably most girls who grew up in the '90s feel that way. I was definitely big into costume jewelry, so I had an earring for every occasion, whether that was like, huge pumpkins on Halloween or like a big heart drop on Valentine's Day. I've always been someone who loves a theme, and that is still true. But I do remember wearing a lot of costume jewelry.
How and when did you launch your company?
I left my job in 2013. I took the summer to sort of think about what I wanted to do next and just kept landing on it. Everything in the wholesale jewelry space felt really familiar. I was going to be doing the same thing for a different boss, and I wanted more autonomy. I started my business in the summer of 2013, so it'll be 10 years this year, which is very exciting. And I was a one woman show, and I really intended for it to stay that way. And Instagram had other plans for me, but really it wasn't with intention that I grew to have a 20 person team. I really wanted to just be private, concierge, service friends, and word of mouth. But obviously with social media, that kind of got taken to a whole new level.
And then what about the creative process? What is it like starting new pieces or a new collection?
It depends. To date, most of the creation is something that I do alone. I've actually just hired from within for a design or to help me kind of see through the process because I have so many ideas, and they end up just sort of fizzling because I can't actually act on everything. But for me, it's either. What are we missing in our collection that our girl would be wearing? And when I say our girl, I'm usually thinking of myself first. Selfishly, because I always want more jewelry, but mostly because I know that the girl who's shopping SG resonates with the things that I personally like and the things that I style in my everyday. If I like it, I know my girl will like it too. What is she missing in her wardrobe? What don't we see out there in the industry? How can we be innovative about taking classic pieces and making them new again? That, for me, is what it looks like, and how it actually happens can really range. I'm not someone who can sketch. I am not an artist. Usually it's me cutting and pasting pictures of things together to show my jeweler what's going on in my head. And after working with people for 10 years, they start to understand your vision. I feel lucky that I have the support of talent.
Can you share your favorite jewelry pieces that you've designed and the story behind it?
I think my favorite pieces are the icons of SG, so the slider bangle being one of them. This is sort of synonymous with our brand at this point. It's my version of a modern day charm bracelet. I'm not a girl who likes a soft bracelet because I live in my jewelry. I never take any of this off. So for me, having something a little bit sturdier is better for my day to day. And bangles are just my go to. And this is a really nice way to personalize. I have my kids' names, I have my dog's names, I have my wedding date. What I love about slider is that it is a bangle for every woman. It is multigenerational. There are girls graduating high school who want this bracelet, and there are women in their 60s or 70s wearing it, maybe with their grandkids initials or just a diamond layout, but there are so many ways to personalize it that it really can feel like a bracelet for everybody.
What jewelry trends do you predict for this year?
I think we're seeing it right, like, heavy gold everywhere. Gold tone especially. But chunky necklaces, collars are coming back even, like, big wonder woman style cuffs, over the top drop earrings. And people are wearing this day to day, which is fun. And I love that. Today, I'm pretty minimal because I have a turtleneck on. There's some things underneath here, but I think over the top with jewelry, it's interesting. Over the pandemic, jewelry had a really strong moment. I think that people are wanting to show off those purchases from the last few years, and maybe they didn't invest in clothing in the same way, because so many of us were just home. This is really the moment to show your jewelry off. The more is more inspiring, and I'm always all about that, so I'm happy to see it ... Color is still here. I'm obviously a color girl. Rainbow is my thing, but lots of greens and the more saturated emerald tones. And I do think we're going to start seeing ear cuffs come back in a bigger way. It had its moment pre pandemic, and the masks kind of screwed that up. But we're bringing ear cuffs back in a big way, and I'm excited to see that too.
And what about bridal trends?
Bridal trends are sort of in tandem with what we're seeing in fashion. We're seeing a lot of green emerald center stones. We're seeing chunky gold settings. I just made this button ring for my anniversary. And by the way, I've been wearing rose gold for ten years. I just felt like I was ready for a change. It happens to be that gold is trending, so that's great. I'm on board with that. But it's almost like the chunkier the better right now.
How do you make sure your pieces are both on trend and still true to your brand?
When I design, I'm not really thinking about trend forecasting. I'm thinking about things that I like and making that the trend. That being said, a lot of people actually don't know we're a multi-brand website, so we represent other designers as well. Like the ring I'm wearing is Jamella. By working with other designers, I can incorporate their aesthetics into what we do. I don't need to change anything about who I am and how I design. I can change the people that we work with so that we can give our customer a full breadth of options.
Jewelry is obviously a big investment, and the styles are always changing. So what would you recommend for someone who's trying to find a trendy piece and they also be able to wear for the years to come?
And I think that comes back to who our brand is. We design pieces that I feel are classic enough that you will have them for a lifetime and that hopefully your daughter or granddaughter would want to wear one day. Everything has a way of coming back. But if you stick with the classic, diamonds never go bad. A diamond stud is something that every woman will wear at some point in her lifetime. For budget purposes, a pave huggie is like a great go to. There are twelve year olds who wear pave huggies, and there are sixty year old women who wear them. And everyone in between, I think some sort of diamond bracelet or bangles, tennis bracelet would be the most obvious option. But now there are just so many great alternatives to a tennis bracelet that I would say not to limit yourself by that super classic motif. And of course, you need, like, multiple stack bands. But I think building a stack over time is something that you can always play with and change how you wear it and add new things too.
I love that it's multigenerational. That's so wonderful.
It is. And I think it should be. We've been having a lot of live events now, and it's funny to see people come in and really, we have college girls who are wearing a heart necklace, and then their mom or their grandma, and they came together, and they're both wearing different versions of it. And really, that makes me so happy because I do feel that our jewelry is for everyone. Everyone can kind of find themselves in the collection.
Could you tell us a little bit about diamond education? What goes into picking out the perfect stone?
This is more catered to bridal. I think what's amazing now that didn't really exist ten years ago when I started, is that there are so many ways to find content on diamond education where this industry was much less transparent ten years ago. And understanding pricing and quality was a huge question mark for most people. It's been a pretty big platform of the brand to educate our consumer and make them feel comfortable making those purchases. What goes into buying a diamond is a consideration of where do you see the value in your purchase. Are you a size matters person, or is quality really important to you? And there's always somewhere in between, and I would say the majority of our customer falls in between. [By] educating yourself about the full spectrum of quality so that you really understand why you're making certain choices and why you're willing to spend a little bit more to get certainthings, that's really what it comes down to.
And then some rapid fire questions for you. Gold or silver?
Diamonds or colored gemstones?
Statement necklace or delicate earrings?
Hoops or studs?
Studs day. Hoops night.
Mixed metals or monochromatics?
That's tough. I'm going to say mixed metals. I'm embracing mixed metals right now.
Hammered or polished metal?
Organic shapes or geometrical shapes
If you had to pick one: the ruby diamond necklace from Pretty Woman, the Heart of the Ocean from Titanic, or the Isadora diamond from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days?
Isidora 100%, and I wore, like, an almost replica of that on my birthday this year, and it was just the most major moment. So Isidora all the way.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photography by: Courtesy