Based in Manhattan, jewelry designers Catherine Marion and Amy Glaswand recently teamed up to launch a line of high-end jewelry, inspired by their taste for classic jewelry with a modern twist. In a nod to their artistic and architectural influences, the two designers opted to name their line CGarte. The duo’s debut collection includes a variety of charm pendants fashioned out of vibrant gemstones and glistening diamonds. The Fashion Spot spoke to the two designers about their jewelry must-haves, what influences their creations, and their all-time favorite pieces.
The Fashion Spot: What inspired you to start your own line?
Amy Glaswand: Catherine and I both love jewelry and met as students in a Cad design class. I have always been interested in jewelry as a challenge in creating a small object that requires technical skill as well as strong aesthetics to be beautiful when worn. As this is a second career for us both, it seemed to be the right time to combine our skills. We were interested in creating a collection that is clean, modern, and has flexibility, so that our customer is able to tailor her jewelry to suit her individual needs.
tFS: What is the meaning behind the name of your line?
Catherine Marion: The “C” comes from my first name and the “G” comes from Amy’s last name. We added “arte” as it is general enough to encompass our current collection, as well as new pieces we add over time.
AG: I think the Arte is representative of our desire to make each piece a work of “art” – to translate each piece into a beautiful design, with elements from varied sources of inspiration.
tFS: Speaking of “arte,” how would you describe your aesthetic? Your clientele?
CM: Our vision is to take classic elements and add a modern, clean twist to the design.
AG: I think our clientele is a woman who is fashionable, modern, and likes jewelry that makes a statement, yet is comfortable enough to wear every day. My particular style is rather minimal and I like a strong piece, like our necklace with the charms, to stand out.
tFS: Where do you get your design inspiration from?
CM: Well, if you were to follow me around for a day, you would see me constantly looking at motifs on buildings, doors, railings and such, taking pictures of them with my camera phone. I also love to pour over old auction catalogs and absorb the designs. Then, they sort of rattle around in my head for awhile until a design idea starts to form. A cuff bracelet I made while attending FIT was inspired by a restaurant candle holder on our table even though what I finally produced was quite different from the original inspiration.
AG: I have always visualized design elements that can translate into various mediums; that’s probably from my art training. I tend to see things in two-dimensional patterns, and jewelry gives me the opportunity to work these patterns into 3-D. I am greatly influenced by classical, architectural elements, icons, and find inspiration in old hardware and ironwork.
tFS: How do the architectural elements you mentioned tie into the materials you work with? Which are your favorites?
CM: Colored gemstones. I hand-pick each and every gemstone that goes into our jewelry. Although our collection does have some pieces with only diamonds, others are either a mixture of diamonds and coordinating colored gemstones, or just colored gemstones. We are in the final stages of development of some cuff bracelets and I was able to obtain colored sapphires in the same color family, but in various shades of that color to use in the cuffs. The shading of the stones really makes the cuffs pop. I also was lucky enough to obtain some beautiful and brilliant rose-cut sapphires in all shades and sizes. Even in the smaller sizes, the colors remain vibrant. I cannot wait to sprinkle them into new pieces in upcoming collections.
AG: I am most interested in the shapes of the jewelry, and love to see them worked into metal. I love colored stones and diamonds, and how they enhance the pieces, but I probably am most excited about the feel of the jewelry in gold.
tFS: Favorite charm in your collection?
CM: Currently, the flower pendant; it has a 5 millimeter center-stone, and the outer frame is set with diamonds. I actually wear them as earrings. Each of our charms and pendants have an elegant clasp directly attached to them so they can be attached to any of our necklace chains or our earring element. I get so many compliments! I was wearing them when Amy and I were looking at some earrings in the jewelry department of a major 5th Avenue store, and the department manager literally ran over to ask where I got them.
AG: I also love the flower pendant as this was inspired by a Renaissance design. It has turned out to be a hybrid of very classical elements, yet very modern. I also love the maltese cross, as it has a sculptural feel. We recently added a heart with a similar geometric style which we’d like to expand upon.
tFS: Other jewelry designers you admire?
AG: I first learned about jewelry-making many years ago when I studied classical goldsmith and granulation. I’m still partial to many of the Turkish and Indian jewelry that incorporates those classical elements with high Karat gold. I also have always loved the jewelry of Verdura. I think that it’s timeless, whimsical, and incorporates gorgeous design, color, and finish.
CM: My own personal jewelry aesthetic is quite eclectic, so there is no one designer that I focus on. Rather, individual pieces from designers’ collections are what I look at. I also love to mix up the jewelry I am wearing. I have no problem wearing high-end jewelry with jeans and mixing in some fashion jewelry at the same time. It’s all in the attitude of the wearer that makes this work.
tFS: What do you think are the jewelry essentials that every woman should own?
CM: I believe that the “rules” for a woman’s clothing wardrobe are equally applicable to her jewelry wardrobe.The core of her jewelry wardrobe should be timeless and classic, including: a good strand of pearls with earrings that can be worn with the pearls, diamond stud earrings, two watches – one for every day, and one for special occasions – a good quality yellow gold necklace, as well as a white-gold necklace with removable pendants so the necklaces can be dressed up or down, a pair of earrings in yellow gold as well as a pair in white gold to go with the other classic pieces she owns, and a simple cuff or bangle bracelet in both yellow and white gold. Once she has the basics, other jewelry that is currently in fashion can be added. Since fashion changes quickly, these added jewelry pieces should not be too expensive.