“I love that someone doesn’t necessarily want to own her grandmother’s parure,” says Brush, who once created works for Van Cleef & Arpels. “Maybe she wants to wear jeans and go to lunch and wear a contemporary look that fits into her milieu.”
Brush doesn’t market any of his works, jewelry or otherwise. The subject of a retrospective at the Smithsonian in 1998, he says he’s “famous to 10 people” and occasionally receives phone calls from those interested in acquiring an item.
“Daniel Brush is apart from all of them,” says Esmerian. “He could work in any medium, from elephant tusks to dinosaur bones.”
Carnet’s Michelle Ong is another jeweler to watch. A bit more prolific than some of her peers (it’s estimated she crafts up to 500 pieces per year), the Hong Kong designer is known for multidimensional creations that often pair rose-cut diamonds and deep-hued sapphires with titanium for lightness.
Recently, Ong brought a selection of items to Bergdorf Goodman, where she is considered royalty. “The queen is here!” raves Bergdorf’s chief executive Jim Gold. “Michelle’s jewelry really stands out.”
Counting Renée Fleming and Wendi Murdoch as friends and clients, Ong safeguards her exclusivity. “It sounds egotistical,” she says, “but my jewelry is not for everyone.”
Another Hong Kong export is Edmond Chin, of ETC Ltd. A former Christie’s staffer, Chin has been toiling at his namesake line for seven years. His experimental style manifests in exquisite baubles like his emerald and jade bangles. Although he keeps a low profile, “People see the jewelry out there,” he says.
Chin produces up to 300 pieces annually, however some custom items can take a few years to complete. In addition to his laser focus, Chin is lauded for keeping mum about his well-heeled customers. “His clients are high-net-worth individuals,” says François Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Europe and the auction house’s head of jewelry. “I know a couple that goes to Hong Kong every year, and each time, they make a trip to Edmond. His designs are in great demand.”
Taffin’s James de Givenchy is another hot ticket. Also an alum of Christie’s (as well as Verdura), Givenchy produces no more than 80 items per year in his salon on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He is known for his use of vibrant color, his delicate hand and his charming demeanor. He’s so accommodating, in fact, that he’ll even shift design gears on occasion.
“My clients are very interesting people, and they sometimes force me into a different direction,” says Givenchy. “I don’t want to invite people to tell me what to do, but I listen.”