Fort Lauderdale, Fla.–based Robin Basile and John Pape of Basile & Pape Bespoke Jewelry craft masterfully made, one-of-a-kind costume jewels destined to become collector’s items.
Designers Robin Basile and John Pape
Headquarters: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Year firm launched: 2009
Signature style: “Industrial red carpet, with gear, spike, and rivet motifs, as well as custom-cut cubic zirconia, in handmade, 24k gold-plated stainless steel, bronze, and sterling designs.”
Training, education, and design process:
Robin: “Out of high school, I started styling windows for department stores, and since 2004, have been the fashion director of Simply the Best magazine, a regional publication in Boca Raton, Florida.”
“When I started working with the magazine, John was helping me—just for fun—to style my shoots and that’s when we started dreaming about what we would make if we had the resources. At the time, I also had a side job doing public relations for a local jeweler, who made some pretty basic designs. I was frustrated that none of the fashion press were responding to my outreach with his jewelry, so I suggested to him that we create some more innovative styles to get their attention. John and I designed a necklace that the jeweler had manufactured in Mexico, and while the jeweler thought it was too over-the-top, I sent in a photo of it to Allure magazine anyway. Allure responded almost immediately, photographing it for spring 2010. After creating more and more designs for the jeweler, who was getting a lot of attention for them, John and I decided to go out on our own and launch our own line.”
“Now, I bring in some of the trendy seasonal colors for the collection, but ultimately, I design what I want to wear and don’t care what the trends are. For example, I was inspired by some of the flowers I saw in the Oscar de la Renta spring 2013 runway show, but we interpreted them in metal with iridescent-colored cubic zirconia.”
John: “I have been a personal injury lawyer—and still am, with a partner—for 20 years, but I’ve been handy and making things my whole life. When we decided to launch a jewelry firm together, I took a yearlong apprenticeship with master metalsmith, Joseph Brandom, in Boca Raton to learn how make jewelry. Originally, we thought we would come up with the designs and someone else would make them, but once we saw some of the low-quality pieces coming out of factories, we thought it would be best to make it ourselves. I’ve always been fascinated with gears and wanted to do things I’ve never seen done before—which was apply mechanical elements to jewelry—while Robin keeps the pieces fashionable, cool, and red carpet-worthy by adding cubic zirconia to styles so you could still wear them with a beautiful gown.”
Materials of choice: “Bronze, stainless steel, and sterling silver with 24k gold overlay, and custom-cut cubic zirconia, as well as some agates and sapphires, but customization is encouraged.”
Starting retail price: $1,200
Retailer buy-in: “There is no minimum buy-in because each is piece is one-of-a-kind.”
Accounts: “None yet.”
Jewelry trade show exhibits: “None yet.”