Best known for her nearly 20-year partnership with Estée Lauder, international supermodel Carolyn Murphy has also shot her share of fine jewelry projects, most recently appearing Tiffany & Co.’s spring 2019 campaign (not her first Tiffany rodeo by a long shot—and she’s also worked with Harry Winston).
Murphy now serves as the face of Tamara Comolli, a smaller jewelry brand (read JCK‘s 2015 interview with the designer here). Known for interpreting fine jewelry with a relaxed, playful vibe and organic, often seaborne inspirations, Comolli hosted an event to celebrate the launch of the fall 2019/winter 2020 campaign in New York last week.
Moments before the party, which asked guests to dress in casual chic attire, JCK had an opportunity to speak with Murphy about jewelry in general, including Comolli’s collection, their shared love of gems, the sea, and everything beach.
Our lively conversation is recapped below. Shots from the campaign are layered within and at top.
JCK: How has your sense of what a true luxury product is changed over your years working in the business?
Carolyn Murphy: I don’t know that it really has changed. I feel that although styles change, personally, my idea of luxury [has always been] something that makes me feel good, and it has to invoke something. Looking at this gorgeous citrine ring that I have on right now, it’s invoking the warmth of the sun. So [the product] has to invoke something, a feeling inside you. That would be my definition of luxury.
I think a lot of jewelry has become more attainable, and more integrated, and you can mix high and low—an expensive piece with something that’s more casual. And there’s some effortlessness to [wearing] jewelry where it’s not so one way or the other. It’s not as strict, like when we were told you couldn’t mix silver and gold.
What is the most treasured piece of jewelry in your personal collection?
My pearls that were my great grandmother’s—so my Nana had them, my mom had them, and my daughter, Dylan, got them for her 18th birthday. Also my Nana had these clip-on jade earrings that I wear for special occasions, and I get so many compliments on those.
Fun. What’s the story behind the jade earrings?
My grandfather bought them for her. She had on a purple velvet dress. and she thought it was weird to wear the jade with the purple but when she did she realized, “Actually this is super chic.” [Nana] was really chic—she would have those statement pieces and her everyday pieces, and I think I kind of adopted her style in that way.
My mom was more experimental, She wore all kinds of jewelry—gold and silver and hoops and chunky necklaces made out of exotic stones and corals. I used to play with her jewelry a little bit as a girl but not as much as [my Nana’s].
What is the number one thing on your jewelry purchase bucket list and why?
I love anything vintage and antique and for some reason, I have been craving an emerald or a really blue, blue sapphire—something that is rare and that nobody else has. I’m always into the emeralds and the sapphires. And peridot is my birthstone.
I was given a peridot ring when I graduated that was almost 100 years old and been in my family, but when I got robbed in my first apartment in New York, that got taken. [The robbers also] took a ruby cross necklace, a princess ring that my father had given my mom when he had gone over to Thailand, and a brooch from Siam that my grandparents had given me. And a few days later, my dear friend was on the Lower East Side and saw my jewelry being sold on the street, laid out on a blanket!
This was pre-cellphones, and she was calling and calling and couldn’t reach me and even tried the police. She knew it was my jewelry because she recognized the ruby cross and an Hermès scarf that had also been taken in the robbery. But anyway, I didn’t get my jewelry back. It’s a very New York story.
I just keep my jewelry locked away now and I have a really beautiful Aerin Lauder jewelry box, which she gave me, and so I do keep some pieces in there, but I still get so nervous.
What draws you to Tamara Comolli’s Mikado bracelet design and the designer’s jewels in general?
With the Mikado in particular, I was enchanted by the colors, because a lot of times with…luxury brands you’ll get some of the basic stones but there’s just so much color and vibrancy to these gems. I kept saying to Tamara, “This just makes me happy.” She was so sweet because she actually gifted me three of the acorn charms on a leather necklace.
Tamara has this quietude to her and lights up when she talks about things that she loves, and one of the things we have in common is [a love of] nature, and she is so influenced by nature. And I just like that there’s a story behind each piece for her, and that she loves the ocean. I’m a huge ocean lover, have been for years, pretty much my whole life. There’s an authenticity to her, and to our friendship, and I am super honored and happy to work with her.
Top: “Carolyn is a rather reserved woman, wonderfully natural. When she touched my Mikado bracelet, it spontaneously put a smile on her beautiful face. It was clear that she’s the perfect brand fit,” says Comolli. All campaign photos by David Lipman.
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