Designers / Industry

Remembering Terry Castro, Celebrated Jewelry Designer Of Castro NYC


Terry Castro (pictured)—a respected jewelry designer known for his vivid jewels, handmade art, and magnetic personality—died on July 18 in Istanbul, his family reported. He was 50 years old.

Castro died from a “fatal yet quick heart attack,” says Sir King Castro, the designer’s son. He confirmed Castro’s death to JCK and says via an email that the number of emails, social media messages, and posts about his father have “overwhelmed” the family.

This kind of affection for Castro has given his family some peace during this time, Sir King Castro says.

On the Castro NYC Instagram account, Sir King Castro wrote, “As his son, I’ve been humbled by the genuine affection there was for him and how proud we all were to know him. He touched so many.… Thank you all for your kind wishes.”

Castro NYC money brooch
Terry Castro’s Money brooch illustrates how he used gems to create intricate yet whimsical shapes such as this cat-like doll.

Tributes across social media sites came quickly, highlighting Castro’s notable talent, his contributions to the jewelry industry, and his affability as a person to all he met.

Muse showroom founder Jennifer Shanker says in an email interview that Castro was a collaborator who could see the beauty within this world and imagine how beautiful the universe was through his innate understanding.

“As a person, Terry Castro embodied the very qualities that made so many people fall in love with his jewelry,” Shanker says. “He was completely one of a kind with a wild and magnetic intensity you simply couldn’t look away from. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him on expanding his indelible imprint on the jewelry industry, and only wish our time together had been longer.”

Amir Khamneipur, founder and principal of design firm Amir K Design, says he met Castro more than 20 years ago when the artist was selling his jewelry on Spring Street in SoHo. Khamneipur was a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, and he saw Castro’s skill set immediately, he says in an email interview.

“After a few minutes of talking, he agreed to make a custom silver pair of skull cufflinks with bigger heads, sapphires in the eyes, and with an engraving. Knowing how excited I was to get them and that they were for a friend, when we met for me to pick them up, he gave me an extra pair for me,” Khamneipur says. “The kindness and creativity that was shared by Castro at that moment stayed with me throughout my life.

“We would both monitor each other’s successes over social media and praise each other with simple, kind words,” Khamneipur says. “I am saddened about the passing of such a kind and creative peer. I am sure he will be blinking as a bright shining star like the beautiful work he created in this world.… Like the blink of an eye, so are memories that come and go in our lives. Unfortunately, so are the lives that are led, some passing too soon.”

Castro NYC antique doll necklace
Terry Castro’s work, which included this antique doll necklace, had movable parts and a folk-like charm yet it was covered diamonds, enamel, emeralds, rubies, and cultured pearls ($287,500).

Designer Lauren Harwell Godfrey says she first met Castro through a media interview on their mutual experiences being Black in the world of fine jewelry.

“We were all on a call and it was hard to get a word in edgewise! He had A LOT to say! And that was the thing about Castro: He was a lot! Big energy, big presence, big feelings,” Godfrey says in an email interview. “He lived in Istanbul, so our friendship was mostly online and on the phone but I’d hear from him all the time.

“He had a lot to share and was the best cheerleader. I was only in person with him a couple of times, but those times made such an impression—he was a magnetic character,” Godfrey says. “I loved seeing how he expressed himself through his work which, just like him, has so much personality. I’ll miss him tremendously and will always wonder what else he had up his sleeve.”

Jewelry designer Maura Green says the industry “lost a prolific talent, a creative force, and a kind, unique artist who leaves behind a body of work which will continue to inspire us all.”

“He was an alchemist whose spirit, talent, and vision can never be matched, but we may be inspired by the passion with which he pushed past the artistic limits we creators impose on ourselves,” Green says in an email interview.

“I met Castro briefly about 15 years ago, when we were both selling our jewelry at the Young Designers Market in SoHo. It was a humble craft market, and when I met him, it was clear that we were in the presence of a prodigy,” Green says. “His work was light years beyond what any of us were doing. Completely unique, magical, and boundless. A decade later, when I rediscovered Castro, I was pleased and not at all surprised to see that he was getting the accolades and recognition which such a talented artist deserves.”

Castro NYC Cat
On a personal note, I was lucky enough to interview Terry Castro one time before his death about this cat charm, which turned out to be a fateful moment for me as a newbie jewelry reporter. He was instantly lovely, helped me in every way I asked, and struck me as one of life’s rarities as a truly kind soul.

Castro’s jewelry brand, Castro NYC, was founded in 2006 in New York. Castro had moved there that year from Toledo, Ohio, where he was born, via Chicago, to pursue a fashion career. He started selling his jewelry from the street, and one of his clients suggested he start his own jewelry line.

Since then, Castro’s work has been featured in Forbes magazine, Vogue Latin America, Vogue Mexico, and many others. His jewels were featured in the photography book Rock Star Chic, on television shows, and the 2013 film Out of the Furnace, starring Christian Bale.

In 2021, Castro was part of Sotheby’s Brilliant & Black: A Jewelry Renaissance, an exhibition highlighting  “the extraordinary skill, imagination, and craftsmanship of Black jewelry designers,” Sotheby’s said in a statement.

Castro typically produced 35 limited pieces annually; past clients included musician Steven Tyler and actor Whoopi Goldberg.

Castro’s family asks that condolences, cards, or flowers are sent to 1519 Glenbrook Drive, Toledo, Ohio, 43614. No further information about memorials or arrangements was available.

Top: Terry Castro, the founder of Castro NYC jewelry, died July 18. He was considered a brilliant artist and a lively, warm, and committed friend to those who knew him. (Photos courtesy of Sotheby’s; photographer Simon Groneberg.)

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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