Forbes June 2020

Glittering with exclusive, one-of-a-kind and limited edition fine jewelry, New York’s The Store at MAD, located in Columbus Circle’s Museum of Arts and Design, a.k.a. MAD, is beloved for offering the museum world’s most desirable and rarefied jewelry selections. Embodying timeless aesthetics, rich materials and peerless artisanal value, jewels here are chosen with a connoisseur’s care by its retail director, Franci Sagar. As the creator of RE:FINE, The Store at MAD’s internationally curated fine jewelry program, Sagar explains, “We’re bringing the RE:FINE experience online to a ZOOM trunk show on Thursday, June 18, at 1 p.m. EST.” Featuring new jewelry designs by Stella Flame, Loren Nicole and Joan Hornig , the event promises to be one of the best luxury jewelry trunk shows of 2020. All trunk show guests will enjoy a 20 per cent savings on purchases and receive a free, lavishly illustrated jewelry book featuring the show’s featured designers and other leaders in the world of sustainable jewelry. Register online at The Store at MAD to participate.
     Featuring adornments by 18 - 20 designers, RE: FINE presents new forms and concepts in luxurious fine jewelry that are as tasteful as they are covetable. According to Sagar, “I choose RE: FINE designers based on their innovative design visions, use of precious and often environmentally sustainable materials. The production values of the three RE: FINE designers featured online on the afternoon of June 18 exemplify original artistic visions as well as accomplished artisanal techniques.”
     Take the creations of Istanbul-based Stella Flame, for example. Comprised of ethically sourced colored stones set in various combinations of 24-karat gold with sterling silver and various shades of 18-karat and 14-karat gold, Flame’s creations update the Ottoman Empire’s tradition of mixing precious metals within the same piece of jewelry, and/or suite of jewels. Hand-hammered, highly textured, replete with golden elements gleaming in alternately silvery white or oxidized sterling silver settings, Flame’s jewels are simultaneously contemporary-looking while also containing antique, time-traveling imagery. “I like for my jewels to embody botanical and other nature motifs plus artisanal techniques popularized by Ottoman Empire and Renaissance Italy jewelers,” Flame says. “My jewels are designed to make you feel happy and in touch with Nature as soon as you put them on your body. During antiquity,” she continues, “jewelry dignified humanity by adorning our ancestors with natural objects like shells and gemstones. I believe in continuing that tradition.” Handmade by jewelers who trained in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, Flame’s pieces are created by fifth generation artisans who mix noble metals, set gemstones and practice other techniques that are recognizably Old World Turkish. Redefining heirloom jewelry by imbuing her pieces with rich cultural and artisanal traditions, Flame is celebrating and helping preserve Turkish jewelry’s intangible cultural heritage.  
     In the case of designer New York-based Joan Hornig, however, “Hornig is pioneering a dynamic, socially engaged jewelry tradition,” Sagar ventures. “Her sleek and sophisticated aesthetic coupled with her social enterprise business model make her philanthropic jewelry stand out in the history of applied arts.” In fact, when someone purchases a Hornig jewel, the designer subtracts its material and labor cost from her share of the sale, then donates the remaining sum to the customer’s chosen charity through her foundation.
     As Michele Cohen, Chair of the MAD Board of Trustees puts it, “No jewelry designer has ever created luxurious collections that generate philanthropic giving on the scale that Joan Hornig has. While her jewels are certainly elegant and flattering to people of all colors and creeds,” Cohen asserts, “they are also precedent-setting in the narrative of jewelry history." In Cohen's view, "Hornig’s collections redefine the cultural concept of adornment, as well as the purpose behind wearing luxury jewelry,” Cohen says. “By empowering people to become philanthropists every time they buy, wear or give one of her creations as a gift, Joan Hornig expands and enriches the cultural value of jewelry.” As it happens, “Joan Hornig’s Philanthropy is Beautiful® collection is the best-selling line in The Store at MAD,” Cohen reports. Sales of Joan Hornig’s jewelry are a welcome addition to our bottom line.”
     Because RE: FINE jewelry embodies MAD’s mission to present work that exemplifies the intersection of fine and applied arts, design and museum-quality artisanship, it makes perfect sense that Loren Nicole Jewelry is featured in the June 18 RE:FINE Virtual Trunk Show.
Created by Southern Californian-based designer/goldsmith Loren Teetelli, Loren Nicole jewelry is made of Teetelli’s proprietary alloy of 22-karat gold. To create her special alloy, which is composed of gold, sterling silver and a tiny amount of copper, Teetelli uses environmentally sustainable Fairmined gold. As Teetelli explains, “Fairmined gold is an assurance label that certifies that gold comes from empowered responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations.” What’s more, Teetelli notes, “Because Fairmined gold sells at a higher premium than other gold, this benefits the miners and helps ensure environmental protection and social development for their communities. “This way,” she continues, “profits can be reinvested into roads, schools or health care.”
     Teetelli’s jewels are set with round, cabochon cut gemstones and/or hardstones such as chalcedony that are hand-carved by master artisans in the neighboring German towns of Idar-Oberstein, where gemstone carving has been a traditional occupation since the 15th century. “Agate, jasper and quartz were all mined in this area, which created jobs for gem cutters and stone carvers way back when,” Teetelli says. “I draw detailed sketches of the animals, birds or reptiles that I want the carvers to create from gemstones and hardstones,” she says. “I’m fortunate to work with such master artisans who have such rich traditions and skill sets. By creating extremely beautiful work, they help me realize my designs.”
     As Sagar notes, “A very important element of RE:FINE's mission involves educating customers about how fine jewelry purchases from The Store at MAD are philanthropic acts. Proceeds from their purchases go to support the jewelry designers, enabling them to make a livelihood from their creative disciplines,” Sagar says. What’s more, “Their purchases also support exhibitions and programs at the Museum of Arts and Design. I invite readers to tune in to our trunk show by registering here,” Sagar adds in closing.