Walter Adler Chefitz is a former design director of David Yurman who launched his Walt Adler line at the recent JCK Las Vegas show, where he was also singled out as one of five event’s Rising Stars (one of his Dome ring designs even took Best in Show in the Design Center). Chefitz’s jewels are well-priced and easy-to-layer sterling pieces accented with gold and featuring several different repeating patterns—diamond and sideways-set marquise silhouettes punctuated with micro images of the same, and densely stacked “tribal” patterns created from a repeating WA motif used in the first piece he ever made, a bracelet he still wears today. He’s also one of five contenders in the JCK Rock Star competition, and his episode No. 4 went live yesterday. Learn more about New York City–based Chefitz in this Q & A below.
Jewelry designer Walter Adler Chefitz
JCK: Describe your signature style.
Walter Adler Chefitz: My work is fine jewelry with a tribal edge. Each piece is immediately recognizable as part of a coherent collection by form, by pattern, or both.
My signature pattern comes alive with contrast of light and dark. I created the debut line this year in highly polished and darkly oxidized sterling silver with gold, diamonds, and gemstones. I think I have tried every oxidizer on the market to find the best one. The impact is old-world and modern. Right now I am working with new stone finishes. I am in love with matte black onyx; it is tender and so sophisticated. I can play with a strand of beads all day.
JCK: How long have you been designing fine jewelry?
WAC: I started designing 10 years ago and simply fell in love. Jewelry provides me the ideal form to express myself.
JCK: Tell me about your design process.
WAC: I start with hundreds of sketches, and design and engineer each piece myself. It always amazes me how much the final product resembles the original idea. From my concept, I move to the computer to refine and engineer. I work with my manufacturing partners to bring my designs from the digital to physical world. I often give the final hand finish, massaging a piece until I know it feels just right.
JCK: Do you make all your own findings and components, such as chain and clasps?
WAC: Yes, even my thin chain is custom. I want a woman to discover something new each time she wears a piece of Walt Adler jewelry. Sometimes, it is the angle of a clasp that emulates the shape of its partner pendant, sometimes the matching proportions of oval links in the tiniest chain to the largest chain. For me, a piece must be beautiful from every angle; the back should be as beautiful as the front.
JCK: What is your jewelry training?
WAC: My training was in ergonomics at Tufts University and University College London, and in fine arts at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I also studied metalsmithing for years while living in Los Angeles.
JCK: Is your jewelry cast or fabricated?
WAC: My manufacturing is a mixture of both, depending on the application. I owned a software company before entering the world of jewelry and am enamored by new technology. Some of my pieces are water-jet cut, some are grown on rapid-prototyping machines and cast, some milled from solid block, and some hand-crafted.
JCK: In what country is the jewelry made?
WAC: I am currently making my jewelry all over the world. It is truly a global partnership.
JCK: How many accounts do you currently have?
WAC: Since launching in June, Adler’s in New Orleans has been my first account. My great-grandfather founded Adler’s Jewelry in 1898. My line is named for my grandfather and namesake, Walt Adler. I also have a number of private buyers, who serve as my international accounts.
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
WAC: I debuted my line at JCK Las Vegas in June as a Rising Star in the Design Center. My line was also showcased this year at the Jewelers of America Summer Show, in the New Designer Group. Next year I plan to do the same shows.
JCK: What jewelry design awards have you received thus far in your career?
WAC: My career started by winning an award from the World Titanium Council in 2004. This is what led to my job at David Yurman. While at Yurman I didn’t enter jewelry competitions, but did win an architecture award for a Jell-O mold I designed (mine is the purple one up top). This year, I won the Rising Star recognition at JCK. At the show, my dome ring won Best Design in the design center. I was selected to be in the JA New Designer Gallery in August, and nominated for the Mort Albertson New Designer of the Year award. It has been quite a year.
JCK: What is your starting retail price?
WAC: The range is from $140–$2500, and the average price is $800.
JCK: Is there anything that I have not asked you that you would like to add?
WAC: Rock and Roll.
Sterling silver Dewdrop ring has 2 ct. t.w. gray moonstone and 0.396 ct. t.w. pink sapphires; $775
Sterling silver Oval Hoop earrings have 0.692 ct. t.w. green Tsavorite and an 18k white gold post; $850
Sterling silver Oval Bridge Link bracelet has one oversize station set with 0.434 ct. t.w. pink sapphire and components can be interchanged with others in the collection; $1,095
Big Dome ring in sterling silver has 18k yellow gold accents; $1,850
32-inch sterling silver Bridge Link necklace has 18k yellow gold-accented stations, and components that can be interchanged with others in the collection; $2,195