Jewelry boxes by Jay Strongwater
Beautiful Jewelry boxes by Jay Strongwater, well-known American designer, artist, followed by household goods to designer, include features furniture, picture frames, jewelry boxes. His various design work has limited sales in famous luxury shops, including the Saks Fifth Avenue department store, Bergdorf Balenciaga. Jay Strongwater began his career in 1981 while a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. After garnering raves for a necklace he’d made his mother, he took jewelry samples to the open buyer days at New York’s department stores and a burgeoning business was born.
At the age of twenty-three, Strongwater got his big fashion break through a meeting with designer Oscar de la Renta, who began to collaborate regularly with the young designer on his runway jewels. Luckily, Strongwater’s taste for big, bold bijoux fit hand-in-glove with the look of the day and particularly with De La Renta’s luxurious and exotic riot of textures and colors.
The fashion spotlight brought with it designer editorial credits in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The move to home accessories was delightfully serendipitous and organic. The spark was a jewel-encrusted, filigree picture frame sent as a holiday gift to friends, fashion editors and buyers who immediately wanted more.
By 1998, in the tight arc of three years, his Jewels for The Home supplanted his fashion business. In essence, Strongwater created his own niche: the jeweler turning his meticulous eye and art on a world beyond a woman’s wrists, necks and ears. “I’m fascinated by the idea of taking everyday things and turning them into jewels for the home,” he says. “Beauty shouldn’t be tucked in a drawer.”
Instead, he’s put it on glorious display in miniature enameled boxes, tulip candlesticks, sinuous floral mirrors, tables with legs of curling ivy and delicate bird-on-a-branch lamps—all seemingly purloined from some enchanted forest where Swarovski crystals fall like snowflakes.
Over the years, the company has grown along with Strongwater’s oeuvre which continues to expand. Strongwater collectors often say they feel the hand of the artisan behind each design. That almost tangible sense is the result of the 125 highly trained artisans in the designer’s New York atelier and production workshop in Rhode Island where most every piece is brought to life.
Even as his canvas has unfurled to include tables sand-cast and hand-forged in brass foundries and glass vases mouth-blown in Portugal and Poland, everything makes it back to the Rhode Island workshop to be finished. Of course, that sense is also derived from Strongwater himself who is an integral part of the process from the big picture of factory visits and trunk shows—connecting with his customer in the grand tradition of Bill Blass— to the finer points such as exactly how much jade enamel should blend into a moss green frame.
As his vision has flourished, so has Strongwater’s presence in the home departments of Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue as well as specialty boutiques across the country. In 2003, he introduced his clientele to the world of Jay Strongwater with his own boutique at the Forum Shops in Las Vegas. That same year saw an international expansion as well: a shop-in-shop at Harrods in London, Dubai, Moscow and Tokyo.
And to satisfy the most far-flung of fans, in 2007 he launched an e-commerce website. Numbering among those ardent aficionados are a crowd of emirs and princesses and celebrities Sir Elton John, Cate Blanchett, Halle Berry and of course Oprah Winfrey who famously made the peace with David Letterman in 2005 with a Strongwater framed photograph of herself and Uma Thurman.
“In a fast paced world, hand made and refined designed remain a luxury. It’s wonderful to see what we have accomplished, but even more exciting to think about where we are going. We continue to challenge ourselves to create more complex designs that showcase the craftsmanship we so love.”