Catching Up with Jewelry Designer Rony Tennenbaum

It
was the summer of 2007 when JCK
first, and last, chatted with New York City–based designer Rony Tennenbaum, an
industry veteran with 25 years of experience—10 alone at Fabrikant-Tara
International LLC.

At the
time, Tennenbaum dished on details of a commitment line that targeted the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, with rings reading LVOE, signifying
“the love between two people of any orientation,” he had told JCK. Now, four years later, Tennenbaum has 12 bridal
collections, some made exclusively for specific retailer accounts, plus some fine
fashion jewelry; last year, he launched his own same-name store in
Nolita (252 Mott Street in New York City).

JCK recently emailed Tennenbaum to find out how his fledgling business is evolving and learn more about his
latest collections.

Jewelry Designer Rony Tennenbaum

Jewelry designer Rony Tennenbaum

JCK: Why did you open your own store? Do you sell only commitment jewelry there, or fine fashion as well?

Rony Tennenbaum: My flagship store in Nolita was part of a
bigger plan for Rony Tennenbaum Jewelry. 
When I started creating my line of engagement and wedding rings for the
LGBT community, my first goal was to have an online presence. After a year of
exposure through online sites and blogs, I decided it was time for the next
stage in my plan—getting into retail. The tough economic climate in 2010 posed
a challenge, but I found it worked in my favor. There were many people seeking
work, and everyone was eager to help each other out. By manufacturing most of
my line in NY state, I was able to create jobs for many New Yorkers.  

Finally,
I felt the time was right to expose my bridal collections to a community that
was on the brink of Marriage Equality. Though the store focuses on bridal, I do
offer several fashion items from guest designers including bridesmaid and
groomsmen gifts, as well as a nice assortment of pearls. After the historic
vote for Marriage Equality in New York
, I am excited to see how
Rony Tennenbaum Jewelry will continue to grow.

 

JCK: Are you still wholesaling your jewelry to
stores?

RT: I am still wholesaling my lines to jewelry
stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. My jewelry can be found in chains
throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Florida.
I am also in talks with several chains on the West Coast and in the Midwest. At
the JCK 2011 Show in Las Vegas, many independent and small chain stores
approached me with interest in becoming pioneers selling to the LGBT community.
I imagine that interest will expand as Marriage Equality continues to become a
reality across the nation and we will have the opportunity to expand into even
more areas.

Outside
of the United States, Canada is playing a major role in my distribution because
it already recognizes legal gay marriages throughout its provinces.

 

JCK: Tell me about your LVOE Forever Enamel
Collection; it’s really quite unique!

RT: The LVOE Forever enamel collection is not
the newest of my collections, but it is certainly the most intriguing to many
of my customers. I think the vibrant colors catch a lot of people’s attention,
and these unique rings are loved by all of my customers—not just the gay and
lesbian couples. I get a lot of walk-ins who just want to try on an engagement
ring with a fun colored shank. Of course this collection offers beautiful
designs for women, but also for men seeking a diamond engagement ring with
enamel.

I
make an assortment of rings to accommodate solitaires that are 0.25 ct., 0.33 ct.,
0.50 ct., and 1 ct. in size. But the fun part is the colors, which come in
white, cream, pink, lavender, and black. For men, I made a 0.50 ct. and 1 ct. men’s princess-cut diamond
solitaire in white, black, and green camouflage. I also made several bands with
less diamond weights—starting with single 0.05 ct. diamonds. In addition, there
are several other designs with LVOE lettering in colors such as
brown and leopard. 

Price
points vary based on diamond size, of course. The men’s bands with diamonds
start at $1,500. Ladies’ diamond solitaires start at $1,350. 

And
at the moment, the enamel collection is the only one I do not make in the
United States. I am a strong proponent
of helping revive the economy by keeping jobs in U.S., and so when it came to
making the enamel I was torn. I had to decide whether to make something unique
that could only be sourced overseas or to forget the idea all together. Finally
I chose to create it and am happy with my choice. The significance of the
sourcing is that consumers will need to accept a six- to eight-week delivery period
because each order is made especially for them and has to be shipped.

 

JCK: Do you work exclusively in 14k gold?

RT: I do not work exclusively in 14k gold,
though in today’s market I find that’s what most customers are looking for.
Most of my designs can be made in 18k or platinum as well. Since my collections are a high-end bridal
niche, I do not offer them in any other alternative metals. In my mind an
engagement ring or wedding band is meant to be special and symbolic of love; there
is no alternative metal that can capture that sentiment. 

 LVOE commitment collection by Rony Tennenbaum LVOE commitment collection by Rony Tennenbaum

The
LVOE Forever commitment collection features an assortment of vibrant enamel
colors, made in 14k gold. Pieces are by order only, and are available within
6–8 weeks. Suggested retail prices start at $1,350 for a semi-mount accommodating a 0.25 ct. center stone.

Air commitment collection by Rony Tennenbaum

Rings in the Air collection feature a modern silhouette
with an aerodynamic and lightweight feel in 14k white or yellow gold. Designs
are available with colorless, created alexandrite, or black diamond centers,
princess or round-brilliant cuts, with center-stone weights starting at 0.50 ct.
Suggested retail prices start at $1,150.

Trademark LVOE commitment collection by Rony Tennenbaum

The trademark LVOE collection stands for “Love is Love No Matter How You
Spell It!” and is a reminder that no matter who the two people in love are,
their love is the same as anyone else’s. Rings in this series are made in 14k
gold and start at $850 retail. 
 

Bricks commitment collection by Rony Tennenbaum

The Bricks Collection features brick-like designs to symbolize the
foundation of love that two people build their lives upon. In 14k gold, solitaires
accommodating 0.75 ct. colorless or black diamond center stones start at $2,000 retail.