For Jenny Klatt and Stephanie Wynne Lalin, the founders and designers of the New York-based fine jewelry brand Jemma Wynne, inspiration has always come from their surroundings. And for their latest collection, that turned out to be an escalator.
They didn’t have a “eureka!” moment on one, though. “We thought,” Ms. Lalin said, “that it really reminded us of the beautifully constructed steps of an escalator.”
According to Ms. Klatt, the collection had actually been conceived “years ago,” at least on paper. Ms. Lalin, she said, “has these very large sketchbooks where she’d constantly be thinking of ideas and jotting things down” — which they revisit when they feel the time is right.
The women liked the idea of creating jewelry that was chunky, heavy and textural. And Ms. Lalin, who works on the design side of the business while Ms. Klatt covers operations and sales, kept returning to a zigzag doodle she had drawn.
But it wasn’t until they had a completed bracelet in their hands that it all clicked. “This really does feel like an escalator,” Ms. Lalin said.
Ms. Klatt noted that they “really loved the metaphorical feeling of it, that it’s, you know, propelling you upward.”
Both Ms. Klatt and Ms. Lalin had made jewelry in college, and then met while working at the jeweler Judith Ripka. At the New York-based business, the women worked closely with the in-house jewelry factory and learned about craftsmanship from its goldsmith. “It was the most unbelievable education,” Ms. Lalin said.
In 2007, they decided to start their own self-financed brand, first introducing an open cuff, then an open ring. Over time, the company has become known for its colorful and versatile designs.
There are 30 pieces in the Escalator Collection, which debuted in June, with prices ranging from $840 for an unadorned ear cuff to $28,980 for a 16-inch gold choker adorned with diamonds totaling 0.6 carat. Pieces are made in 18-karat yellow, rose or white gold and most feature either pavé diamonds or diamonds with special cuts such as bullet or shield. One-of-a-kind pieces are being created and the women also said they plan to extend the line.
Ms. Lalin said that she and Ms. Klatt had an “affinity for finding ideas that we think, when we discuss them, they’re like, ‘Oh, so easy,’” but production turns out to be complicated.
The Escalator necklaces and bracelets, for example, are articulated and it took a year to achieve the fluidity they wanted while still retaining the striking geometric shape. In comparison, the earrings and rings, which are rigid, took about three months of development.
Ms. Lalin first sketched the designs, then turned to a digital program to work out technical details and even created paper versions to wrap around their wrists to settle on sizes and proportions. They then worked with a model maker to perfect the plans, prototypes were made and ultimately a specialist fabricated the final pieces. (The two women have a staff of eight, including production employees, but commission work from various jewelers, depending on design needs.)
The basic design “has a very quiet luxury feel to it,” said Ms. Lalin, noting their collections typically feature more color.
Marci Hirshleifer-Penn is the global personal shopping director and women’s wear buyer at the Hirshleifers department store in Manhasset, N.Y., which is carrying the line. In an email, she described the Escalator as “a modern extension of the previous collections,” a design that was “elegant and timeless while still being fun and wearable.”
For Ms. Hirshleifer-Penn, “the shape is what really makes it feel like such a modern piece.”