In 2010, third-generation jeweler Shawn Behnam opened his own design firm, Cydonia & Co., offering affordable silver styles set with gemstones, diamonds, and 18k gold accents starting at $100 retail. (The name is inspired by the Greek goddess of heroic endeavor, Cydonia.) To get the skinny on the new endeavor, JCK recently spent a little time chatting with Behnam, as well as looking at the line at JCK Las Vegas and, more recently, at the JA Show in New York City.
JCK: Describe your signature style.
Shawn Behnam: We make easy-to-wear, modern, and bold silver pieces with designs influenced by nature. We show a lot of floral patterns, particularly the Cydonia flower, but since our company is so new, we are still fine-tuning our signature style.
JCK: Tell me about your design process.
SB: We have a dedicated design studio in Bali, Indonesia, staffed by 10 employees: three sketch artists, three model makers, and four wax carvers. They create each piece from scratch—from two-dimensional drawings to three-dimensional pieces. I aid in the design process, and my dad, Rafi Behnam, helps as well. My family has been in the jewelry business for 30 years. Some of our stone setting is done in New York City.
JCK: What materials do you work in?
SB: The majority of our jewelry is cast in sterling silver and has 18k gold accents. We only use genuine gemstones, including South Sea pearls, diamonds, and colored stones like amethyst.
JCK: How many accounts do you currently have?
SB: We currently have 200 domestic accounts—thanks to my family’s history in the jewelry business—and 12 international ones, including in Canada, the Caribbean, and one in China (but for private label). And we are growing! We are looking for new salespeople and a computer programmer to help build and maintain our website.
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
SB: The JA Summer show, in the GJX Tent during the AGTA Tucson GemFair, JIS in Miami, the JA Special Delivery show (in October), the Smart Show in Chicago, and JCK Las Vegas.