JCK Asks…Annie Fensterstock



On her beginnings and other designers’ futures

JCK Asks” is, of course, all about designers and their gorgeous jewelry. But we couldn’t resist telling you what Annie Fensterstock is doing to help other designers make gorgeous jewelry—namely, working with Afghan ­jewelry students in Jaipur. “It’s an ongoing project through the organization Future Brilliance,” explains ­Fensterstock, who spent four weeks in India working with the future jewelers as they studied design, gemology, cutting, ­business management, and more. “The profits will support the skills ­development of the artisans and ultimately create tremendous opportunities for Afghans, including women in rural areas of the country.” ­Aayenda Jewelry—featuring a collection designed by Fensterstock (made by the Afghan students)—will debut at JCK Las Vegas. Aayenda, she explains, “means ‘future’ in Dari.”

Peacock necklace with opal and diamonds

Age: 42

Number of years in the biz: I’ve been selling to stores for 10 years and private clients for 20.

Family and pets: I live with my husband, Mike, and three kids: Tess, 7, Luna, 5, and Beck, 3.

Describe your personal style: Supercasual—I’m a T-shirt and jeans girl!

First piece you ever designed: When I first began studying jewelry in college—before I learned how to solder—I made an elaborate beaded necklace for my mother’s 50th birthday. It took about a month to make!

Fensterstock’s kids

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: My sister-in-law’s engagement ring in 1994. It was the first big diamond I ever set and I held my breath the entire time. I took it to get an appraisal, and the man writing it didn’t believe me that it was handmade!

Favorite (or current favorite) gemstone: Ruby.

How would you describe your current collection? Fanciful, edgy, and opulent.

Best piece of advice you ever received: “Follow your passion” (from my father).

22k gold diamond slice earrings

Worst piece of advice: “Don’t go to art school…you’ll never make any money” (from my mother, which I ignored).

First job ever: I babysat for three kids when I was 11.

How did you get started designing jewelry? I made beaded necklaces on leather cords to sell at Dead shows. I took a jewelry class to learn how to make clasps for the leather cords.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Children’s book illustration.

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Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Nothing when I’m working!

Five items on your desk right now: The five things at the top of the pile? Sketchbook, Rapidograph ­(technical pen), colored pencils, dandelion root tea, and lots of gemstones!  

On your playlist: Soundtracks to Frozen and Grease mixed in with Yo La Tengo.

Exercise regimen: I just started doing T25—I’m loving it! 

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What did you have for breakfast? Kale smoothie.

Guilty pleasure: I really, really love chocolate.

Drink (daytime/evening): Coffee, tea, and wine.

First website you check every day (not your own!): A Class Act, an acting studio in Manhattan, for ­upcoming drama classes and workshops for my ­daughter…followed by Barneys Warehouse for shoes.

Scent: Sandalwood, but I don’t wear anything or I’ll sneeze.

Wide halo Reprise ring

How do you unwind? Designing jewelry is the most relaxing thing I do all day!

Superstitious? Not really, but I do have a lucky ­necklace that I wear whenever I fly.

Book you’re reading: Vulture Peak by John Burdett, the fifth in a series of Bangkok detective novels.

Book you’ve been meaning to get to: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth: 1,349 pages.

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Preferred news source: MSNBC in the car and gym or NYTimes.com.

Main means of transportation: Mainly automobile now that I’m a suburban girl.

Favorite movie: I have a lot, but one of my all-time faves is A Woman Under the Influence.

Who would play you in your life story? Parker Posey or Minnie Driver.

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Parker Posey

Personal motto: “Don’t take life too seriously.”