Designers / Industry

How I Got Here: Ali Weiss on the Power of Family and Partnerships


First anniversaries are sentimental moments, and Ali Weiss is the kind of jewelry designer who fully indulges in sentimentality when it comes to celebrating her store’s first full year in business and her brand’s website.

That’s because Weiss in some ways has been in business for herself since she was in elementary school. Her first entrepreneurial efforts were in chocolate—a partnership with a sixth-grade friend that proved an after-school boon—as well as those braided ribbon barrettes that every kid growing up in the 1980s knows all too well.

But having her first jewelry store that has now been open a full year? That’s a dream the young Ali Laub likely never had of back then. Her website is also a labor of love, coming out of the pandemic when her son Cooper insisted she go online in a real way.

Ali Weiss store
Ali Weiss Jewelry opened its first retail store in September 2021, focusing on her long relationship with piercing expert Keri D’Angelo and the community of Armonk, N.Y.

“He came to live at home and said, ‘Mom, we’re building your website now!’ With him taking control of that part of the business, we spent the next two years building it and launching it in September 2021 along with opening our store the same day,” Weiss says.

This month, Ali Weiss Jewelry can look back on its first year as an omnichannel business with joy, gratitude, and hope for the future, Weiss says.

She launched Ali Weiss Jewelry in 2005. Her fine jewelry line includes 14-carat pieces that range in price from $125 to $6,000. The brand opened its first store and piercing bar in September 2021 in Armonk, N.Y., near where Weiss (then Laub) grew up with her parents, Carol and Michael, and sister Gillian.

Weiss remembers being a “super-social kid,” playing tennis, going to summer camp with her cousins, and lots of family gatherings. She worked as a teen in an ice cream store, was a camp counselor for kids with cerebral palsy, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University, where she majored in special education and received her teaching certificate.

Ali Weiss pendants
Charms are a staple item for Ali Weiss and her jewelry brand. Her other favorite pieces are chunky chains, “big gold looks,” bangles, and anything with words and mantras.

She continued in education and received her master’s in speech-language pathology and audiology from New York University. Her first “real” job was as a speech pathologist at a preschool on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, helping students communicate through play therapy. She freelanced as a speech therapist as a young mom; she now has three sons ages 23, 20, and 15.

One through line in these years was jewelry—something Weiss says came about because of the people she met in New York as well as one all-important mentor.

“I was always obsessed with jewelry. I loved looking at it, wearing it, and thinking of pieces I wanted to have made for myself,” Weiss says. “I was obsessed with the brand Ylang Ylang in my younger days and loved getting the coolest jewelry from Billy Martin’s on Madison Avenue and lost my mind in Barneys New York. My Super Bowl was walking on 47th Street, in the New York City jewelry district. I still feel that way today.”

While working as a speech pathologist, Weiss says she took a class at the 92nd Street Y in the evenings to learn the history of jewelry.

Ali Weiss jewelry
Layering is another of Ali Weiss’s favorite ways of wearing her jewelry, putting on lots of complimentary charms and chains to get a bold look.

“There was a family of jewelers on 47th Street that my family got their jewelry and watches from for years, S.H. Zell and Sons. They were my first introduction to designing custom pieces,” Weiss says. “Stanley Zell and his two sons helped me, gave me advice, and introduced me to the artisans they used when I first started out. They still help me, and I am forever grateful to them.”

Weiss says designer Helen Ficalora was the most instrumental person in her jewelry journey, starting with when she was one of Ficalora’s clients in Montauk, N.Y. After buying many of Ficalora’s iconic pieces, including the initial charm necklace, Weiss says she became one of Ficalora’s reps, doing trunk shows all across the tristate area.

“Along with selling her line, I started designing my own pieces that complemented her line, not competing with it,” Weiss says. “My first pieces were handmade 14k gold wire–wrapped chains with precious stones, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. I also designed strands of precious stones and 18k beads. I thought they looked great to layer with Helen’s line. I got a positive response from my necklaces and ran from there.

“I felt so alive and passionate about creating and selling. It wasn’t just the creative process. I loved working with clients to make and put together jewelry that made them feel so good,” Weiss says. “That is still a huge part of my business. I thrive when I’m working with people. Helen was a great mentor to me, and I am eternally grateful to her.”

Top: Jewelry designer Ali Weiss says her personal jewelry tells her life’s story, including the two gold cuffs that she never takes off—one has her three sons’ names, and the other has the word authentic. “My goal is to be my authentic self and help bring that out in my clients through my jewelry,” Weiss says. 

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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