Vincent Peach’s career trajectory reads like a coming-of-age novel: Child grows up with a jeweler father and starts learning the secrets of the trade from a young age. Teen goes on to jewelry design school in Memphis, only to wind up owning an antique business for more than a decade. Adult realizes he’s in the wrong industry, sells the 28,000-square-foot Nashville showroom, and puts his treasure trove of Chinese antiques into storage, where they still sit to this day.
Luckily for jewelry lovers, there’s a happy ending to this tale: The Tennessee native found his way back to ornamental passion and debuted his eponymous line, Vincent Peach Jewelry, in 2008.
“As children, my brother, sister, and I had the opportunity to work the showroom or learn to be a jeweler in the back,” Peach says. “I started working at a bench and was soldering jump rings by the time I was 13. By 15, I was sizing rings and setting stones. Right after high school, I went to jewelry manufacturing and design school and learned everything about casting and wax-carving and hand-fabricating. That was just the beginning.”
Diamond Equestrian Eternity necklace in leather with Tahitian pearls and pavé diamonds in sterling silver, $9,500, Equestrian Cuff in red-brown crocodile skin with sterling silver horsebit and Tahitian pearl; $742; Vincent Peach, Nashville; 615-378-1374; vincentpeach.com
Pearls of Wisdom
Peach’s line all started with a pearl. That comes as no surprise, given that his father owns and operates the 43-year-old Tennessee-based United States Pearl Co.
“I was in Texas, working the biggest antiques show in the country, and I brought all my tools and was making simple pearl necklaces from my booth. I wound up selling them as quickly as I could make them,” he recalls. “One person would show her friends and on and on. By the end of the show, I had a line of women eight deep waiting for me to make them a necklace. I did more in jewelry sales than I did in furniture sales. I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. I’m in the wrong industry!’?”
Peach returned from the show and started making jewelry out of his house; three years later, he decided to “take a big leap of faith and go wholesale.” Six years later, that first pièce de résistance that sold like hotcakes, the Seaplicity (supple leather clasped by a pair of Tahitian pearls), continues to be one of his best sellers; the designer himself wears one, not removing it even to shower or sleep.
The bulk of Peach’s designs utilize high-quality, round AAA South Sea and AA/AAA freshwater pearls sourced from French Polynesia, Australia, the Marshall Islands, and China. The Bohemian lariat, part of a multifunction signature collection, is one of his showpieces: It can be worn in a long strand around the neck or wrapped around the wrist.
But the designer’s present-day taste in materials extends beyond pearls: He gravitates toward anything that will make a statement. A 10,000-year-old fossilized walrus tusk found in the permafrost of the Alaskan tundra, for example, becomes the showstopper for a new piece he’s working on; another intricate necklace is constructed from fish vertebrae, while a chunky bracelet is carved from the base of a moose’s antlers.
Since his initial foray into the jewelry world, Texas has remained Peach’s biggest market and the inspiration for his Southwestern-themed gems and popular Equestrian collection.
His other major client base is the resort scene; more than 600 hotels and resort shops carry his Coastal collection, and working with five-star brands like Four Seasons and Viceroy, in particular, has proven extremely beneficial for sales—in Mexico, the Caribbean, and beyond. To cater to that market, Peach’s spring line comprises “a lot of color” with punches of coral and turquoise and plenty of African trade beads and sea glass. “It’s perfect for those ready to head off to the beach.”
As the seasons turn and more pieces are added, Peach’s overall style—which he calls “bohemian chic,” a hybrid between fine and everyday jewelry—is ever changing, too, which he says is absolutely vital to staying relevant: “This is a very competitive industry. We get knocked off as quickly as we make it, so we’re always having to reinvent ourselves—every season.”
Montana bracelet in leather and sterling silver with 7.42 cts. t.w. pavé diamonds and Tahitian pearl, $6,995; Weekender earrings with 14 mm freshwater pearls and 0.25 ct. t.w. diamonds and rhodium-plated sterling silver, $350; Locket Wrap bracelet in leather with diamond-encrusted locket, $1,150
Taylor Swift was the first celebrity to be photographed wearing a Vincent Peach original (the Seaplicity)—at the time, she and the designer were neighbors in one of Nashville’s soaring high-rises—and Carrie Underwood is frequently spotted wearing his strands around her neck or clusters of gemstones and pearls on her ears. Peach’s fan base is diverse to say the least: Alice Cooper, Oprah Winfrey, and Steven Tyler have all appeared in magazines wearing his pieces, as have country artists such as Miranda Lambert and Reba McEntire.
But the buildup to becoming a household name in celebrity circles didn’t happen overnight.
“I’d say 80 percent of our celebrity clientele is through word-of-mouth. You never know who’s going to call in this business,” he says. “[My designs] are meaningful to them because they wear our pieces every day, unlike many other items that you may only pull out once in a blue moon.”
Rockers dig the Coin collection, where Peach mounts an antique piece like an authentic Dutch VOC coin on a braided leather cord with a Tahitian pearl for the clasp, while the country crowd—including Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley—often are drawn to the longer, fringed pieces punctuated with tassels and tusks found in the Diamond and Fossil collections.
Freshwater Coin cuff in leather with large freshwater coin pearl, $475; Dallas lariat in deer skin with sterling silver equestrian bit and freshwater pearls, $1,850; Keowee Diamond Arrowhead ring with 0.6 ct. t.w. diamonds in sterling silver with rhodium plate and Indian arrowhead, $575
Home, Sweet Home
Celebrities aside, more and more shoppers are discovering Peach’s artistry, especially now that his Nashville showroom has moved to a heavily trafficked location right on the busy tourist trolley line and in the same complex with Mike Wolfe’s iconic Antique Archaeology (made famous by the History channel show American Pickers) and a pair of locally renowned distilleries.
The upgraded Vincent Peach flagship store, which opened its doors in the historic bricked Marathon Village in February, mimics the eclectic feel of his collection: a little bit upscale but approachable, a little bit edgy but with a whole lot of character. Peach himself laid out the interior, with vintage luggage scattered throughout.
At any given time, he has up to 15 people working for him, in addition to diamond setters in New York City and occasionally India (though he does try to keep all production in America, he adds). And while many of his pieces can run as high as $45,000, Peach recognizes the need for a diverse mix of prices; thus, visitors to his showroom will find a number of everyday-wear pieces under $100 such as the Abalone Shell stretch bracelet ($49) and Constellation cuff ($74).
“We have a price point to fit everybody, and you’re still going to get a really nice look,” he says. “A lot of people can’t afford a piece that’s $6,000. I think it’s important to provide something for everybody.”
As Peach’s line continues to evolve, so do his interests. He already has plans to expand his current space and introduce a pair of fashion lines soon—clothing and leather—designed by him and Michelle Garcia, vice president of Vincent Peach Jewelry.
“Michelle and I are very passionate about clothing—that’s the next step,” he says. “We love the fashion industry as a whole, and being able to put a whole look together—from their shoes to their belt to their pants to their jewelry—would just be awesome.”