Now in her fourth year as a jewelry designer, Stella Flame of Stella Flame Fine Jewelry in New York City earned a number of non-jewelry diplomas before actually becoming a designer. Flame obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Cinema Studies and a Master’s degree in Public Administration, both from NYU, as well as credits at the New York School of Design, while working part-time in the Diamond District. She also designed knitwear designer, worked in the fine jewelry department at Barneys, and did some interior decorating before an unexpected meeting on a trip to Istanbul led to the launch of her jewelry firm. “I was in the right place at the right time, and had an opportunity to meld everything I had learned about color, design, and jewelry,” she tells JCK.
Jewelry designer Stella Flame
JCK: Describe your signature style.
Stella Flame: My signature style is Byzantine luxe from a distinctly American viewpoint: layering a variety of pieces that incorporate high-karat filigree, gemstones, and precious metals in a unique way that sets the collection apart and differentiates it from other collections coming out of Turkey.
JCK: Explain your design process.
SF: I sketch the jewelry and supervise the creation with several small workshops—all of which are run by master jewelers. I enjoy some level of collaboration and cultural input as part of my creative process. One of our workshops handcrafts our sterling silver chain, and our signature 24k gold wrapped S hook and 24k gold wrapped toggle closures are hand made by another. Initially, all pieces were fabricated completely by hand using traditions that are literally thousands of years old, but this year, in order to introduce a group at a lower price point, we were able to cast pieces in a way that preserves the integrity of the collection yet would appeal to a broader range of retailers.
JCK: Where is the jewelry made?
SF: The collection is produced in Turkey and the workshops are all located in Istanbul.
JCK: What materials do you work in?
SF: I work primarily in sterling silver that is oxidized or rhodium plated or blasted to create a matte effect that I typically accent heavily in pure 24k gold. The collection that is cast incorporates 18k and/or 14k gold given the global economy and current price sensitivity. I love diamonds and colored sapphires, so for May market, we will be introducing both as color palette accents; they add dimension and undeniably imply richness and value. Other semiprecious stones and gemstones are also integral to the collection, adding color and vibrancy and fuse what is trending in the fashion world and ready to wear with our vision of must-have Stella Flame pieces across a variety of price points.
JCK: How many accounts do you currently have?
SF: A dozen in the U.S., and two overseas, including London Jewelers and Mercer by Edith in Paris
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
SF: Accessorie Circuit in August 2012
JCK: What is your starting retail price?
SF: My starting retail price is $175 for the group I recently introduced that is more price-sensitive, and $500 is the opening price for the hand-fabricated collection.
JCK: Tell us something few people know about you.
SF: On a teen trip in my youth, I travelled abroad to the middle of a desert in Israel, surrounded by Bedouins, where I traded by tie-dyed Speedo racing suit for a pair of Japanese flip flops that were three sizes too small. Their jewel-like tones were irresistible! The former owner ultimately became my lifelong BFF.
Additionally, most of my designing takes place at Rock Hall, a circa 1912 Addison Mizner (the architect of Palm Beach) estate in Litchfield Hills/Southern Berkshires. I fully restored the Mediterranean revival estate and mansion as a second home in 2006. In 2007, we turned our country home into award-winning luxury boutique lodging. It’s the only remaining Mizner-designed residence north of the Mason Dixon line, and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Between the manor house itself, soothing spa services, and 23 acres of gardens, meadows, and forest land, Rock Hall has turned into a true design getaway for many of our guests, who are performing or fine artists—including me!