Irene Neuwirth is a Los Angeles based jewelry designer who founded her fine jewelry company in 2003. Ten years ago, Neuwirth brought a small collection of her one-of-a-kind pieces to Barneys New York, where the buyer placed a significant order after the first meeting. Within a year, Neuwirth ranked among the store’s top selling jewelry lines, while her sophisticated designs generated tremendous editorial attention in Vogue, InStyle, Town & Country, W, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Neuwirth went on to become a finalist for the coveted CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund in 2008, a member of the CFDA in 2009, and a nominee for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Accessory Design in both 2012 and 2013.
What’s your background? How did you become a jewelry designer?
After college, I was teaching horseback riding and making jewelry as a hobby. I decided to put some pieces together, sent them to Barneys, and when they picked up the line, I learned how to do all wax carving and metal smithing.
Your vibrant and raw-cut gemstones are undoubtedly signatures of your line. Do you have styles you replicate from season to season with different stones?
I have styles I replicate season after season, which I love and wear all the time, but my passion is making all the one-of-a-kind pieces.
How closely do you follow and integrate jewelry trends?
Not at all! I’ve been lucky. It’s been pretty organic.
Is it tough to connect to your New York customer being based in LA?
No. I don’t think about LA vs. NY. I just make what I love and feel lucky that clients and collectors on all coasts love it. Plus I honestly spend so much in time in New York and on the East Coast in general that I’m literally connecting with customers all the time.
How did it feel getting nominated for another CFDA award? How does this sort of recognition change the direction of your brand?
It felt amazing! It’s obviously such an honor to be nominated by your peers, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it changes the direction of the brand, but it increases brand awareness and visibility, for sure.
Your jewelry is always a staple on red carpets throughout the year, what’s it like working with stylists and celebrities for an event?
A treat! I’m always so excited and always hear such incredible feedback.
Vogue magazine just featured your new home in Venice (which is stunning!), and you speak about decorating — Do you approach home design with the same type of vibrancy seen in your jewelry collections?
Yes. I like to mix random colors, fabrics and patterns, the same way I like to mix the shapes and stones. There is something whimsical about the way I decorate and design.
What makes a home cozy and warm?
Friends, entertaining, color, mixing high-end and vintage, lots of pillows, art, etc.
Do you help friends decorate?
Sometimes. But not formally.
What are your thoughts on the newest generation of jewelry designers?
I think all of the attention on jewelry design increases the business altogether. I just have to keep moving forward and creating new things. That’s what I love to do, and how I started in the first place.