The California designer’s new Montauk collection is making waves
Geoffrey Cooper (pictured, right, with his family) of Geoffrey Scott is a man of many words, and they flow with enthusiasm, passion and delight for his craft. He is warm, sincere, extremely professional, and you can immediately tell there is depth to his soul. He keeps his emotions close to his chest, but it’s easy to pick up on his triumph over some intense hurdles and his having come out stronger because of it. My kind of man—or jeweler, I should say. Get him talking about his gorgeous wife or his kids? Forget it. We haven’t met in person, but I literally can feel his face light up as he talks about them. I was delighted by Cooper’s humility and his adaptability to change. He continues to be successful because he keeps a close eye on his customers. I can’t wait to finally meet him in Tucson and drool over the debut of his new collection, Montauk.
Can you please tell us how the Montauk collection was inspired? It seems to be a departure from your former aesthetic, and I’m curious as to what the catalyst was.
The Montauk collection isn’t so much about inspiration for me as it is about the love of unique and exotic gems. I wanted to create a collection in which every piece was unique, and no two gems were identical. I have been very blessed in the past year to gain more traction with retailers in addition to bringing on a partner. This has allowed me not only to take more risk in design, but also to get back to my roots of creating exotic, one-of-a-kind pieces and not worry as much about the mass-market sell-through.
Havana cuff bracelet in polished sterling silver and rainbow moonstone
Have you always lived in California? Where did your jewelry journey begin?
I was born in Seattle, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and then made the move to Encinitas, Calif., back in 2012. It was the best decision of my life. Being near the ocean and in a place where billionaires and bums can share a wave in peace is pretty grounding and great for my creative vibes.
My journey in the industry began as an entry-level salesperson when I was 18. I had events in my life that required me to be working as opposed to going to school full time. I knew I could sell, and luxury goods appealed to me, so it was a natural fit. My first employer took a chance on me. He taught me the ins and outs of the industry, from design and manufacturing to wholesale and retail distribution. I spent 10 years with the organization, and it laid the groundwork for me to develop my line and truly understand the needs of a buyer, from the retailer’s perspective.
How do you want your audience to interact with your art?
Spending the first major stretch of my career in nothing but high-end diamonds, it was clear to me that my client wearing an expensive engagement ring lacked true fashion-forward jewelry choices for day-to-day life. A noticed a gap in the market and decided to create designs that the luxury jet-set gal could just as easily pair with jeans as her ball gown. I’ve designed my new collection to be just as versatile to accessorize within the collection itself, as well as complementing other fashion designers. I merchandise my line much like a fashion blogger or stylist. I built my collection around the ways women shop and wear their accessories.
Portofino drop earrings in oxidized sterling silver, 22k gold vermeil, and rainbow moonstone
You are notorious for being an economically friendly jeweler and a leader in sustainability before it was considered cool. Why is this essential to your brand DNA?
The best I can do for myself and my kids is to be more conscious in design and material selection. It’s not really difficult for anyone who works with precious metals to make this little change. With nearly all major refiners providing alternative metals and recycled metal options at this point, it’s an easy choice.
If you weren’t making jewelry what would you be doing with your life?
My goal with my brand and the next 20 years would be to use it as a vehicle for change. After sitting on the board of the California Symphony and seeing firsthand how the arts programs have been all but eliminated from the public school systems, I become increasingly frustrated. At the symphony, we provided those resources to schools in need to continue their programs.
We live in an American society where the emphasis has been put on white collar jobs for too long. What about the artistic kids? The truly gifted ones? So to answer your question—I’d love to be in the position someday to help return those desperately needed programs to those kids who need them.
What is your favorite piece and why?
My favorite piece at the moment is my Liv lariat necklace. Liv came to my mind on a stormy road trip on the way home from a trunk show. I had to pull over and put it on paper before I forgot about it. It’s that special day-to-day piece that can be as sexy as you want it to be. It’s delicate and petite but at the same time bold and empowering.
Liv lariat necklace in oxidized sterling silver and 22k gold vermeil
Any advice for emerging designers?
Fail forward! No, really. You will get beat up at 9 out of 10 doors you knock on (if not more). You will make mistakes. You will fail. It’s how you walk through the fire that counts. Take those mistakes, wake up tomorrow and improve. Be willing to adapt a bit, but stay true to yourself. Oh, and find your customer. You can’t sell everyone, and you can’t make everyone happy. Find your customer and treat them well.
Why are you excited for JCK Tucson?
With JCK’s designer mix slated for the show, coupled with the way they’ve really embraced me, I’m super excited to see this event come together. Also, I’m absolutely thrilled that Benjamin Guttery from Third Coast Gems will be at the show. His energy and passion for the industry is infectious, and I couldn’t have found a better fit to assist me in debuting my new collection!
Montauk #121 in sterling silver, 18k gold, and boulder turquoise