An Edgewater, N.J.–based financier–turned–jewelry designer favors satin finishes and modern interpretations of Middle Eastern motifs.
Jewelry designer Malak Atut of ZAIKEN Jewelry
Headquarters: Edgewater, N.J.
Year firm launched: 2010
Signature style: “East meets West with an urban edge. I feature traditional motifs rooted in geometry and culture that have been reimagined for the woman on the go. Satin finishes in gold and calligraphy themes interpreted from geometric and architectural patterns evident throughout the Middle East. One of my newest collections is the Spinning Hexagon, and it comprises three colors of gold—white, pink, and yellow—features rotating elements with pink sapphires on one side and colorless diamonds on the other. Wearer can flip pieces, which provide a level of fun and versatility.”
Training, education, and design process: “I have been making jewelry for over 10 years, but, previously I had a career in finance. I had been designing jewelry as something for myself and as special requests for the partners I worked with; from there became it became a business.
“I don’t have any formal jewelry training, but I spent a great deal of time with the jeweler I worked with to make my jewelry. The experience was more like an apprenticeship than a formal training program. Now, I do all the designing, conceptualizing, and sourcing, but my bench jewelers do all the production here in Manhattan. We have a combination of purchased and proprietary components. For example, basic pieces like lobster claws we purchase, but we have a signature bale that works doubles as an enhancer. For stone choices, we work mostly with opaque stones, but have started using translucent stones like prynite and aquamarine, and also use pink opals and diamond accents. Our jewelry is both cast and fabricated, and we are proud of the fact that it is made in Manhattan. One of our taglines is conceived globally and made locally.”
Design awards and accolades: “I was nominated in the designer category of the WJA Awards for Excellence this year!”
Materials of choice: “I work in 14k yellow, white, and rose gold primarily for my ready-to-wear collection. For custom work, we use 18k gold, and we also use a non-tarnish silver for some jewelry. A lot of pieces have a two-tone metal combination of pink and yellow gold.”
Starting retail price: “$500 in 14k gold.”
Retailer buy-in: “I don’t usually have a fixed dollar amount, but I think retailers need a minimum of seven pieces to make a nice presentation.”
Accounts: “Ten, including Fred Segal in Santa Monica, Calif., and none yet overseas.”
Jewelry trade show exhibits: “I did globalDESIGN in February and I will do the JA Summer show at the end of the month.”
Is there anything you would like to add? “I work with a nonprofit in Manhattan called the Community Word Project, which works to keep the arts in the public schools for children. Usually, art programs are the first things to get cut from budgets during tough economies. I met the executive director at an event, and was inspired hearing about their work. Within a year, she invited me to collaborate with them and we created a limited edition bracelet in silver and cord where 100 percent of proceeds go back to them. This is our second year working together. The bracelets are made in blackened silver, and the motif is an interpretation of their logo featuring children; the cord color will changes each year. Each retails for $120 and are for sale on my website.”
Earrings in 14k rose gold with pink sapphires and pink opal; $2,090
Pendant necklace in 14k yellow gold with peach moonstone and labradorite on chain; $3,545
Calligraphy cuff in tri-color 14k gold with colorless diamonds; $3,650
Spinning pendant necklace in in 14k yellow gold with green onyx, colorless diamonds, and blue sapphires on a rainbow moonstone chain; $3,920
Earrings in 14k yellow, white, and rose gold with pink sapphires and colorless diamonds; $5,610