A treasured life left the earth yesterday when longtime talented jewelry designer Robin Rotenier of Rotenier New York died at his Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan. A late-afternoon report online yesterday from the New York Post stating that Rotenier had committed suicide shocked many, especially as the jewelry industry prepares for the next week’s trade-only jewelry shows taking place in Las Vegas. Rotenier was not scheduled to exhibit in any of the shows, though he had participated in both JCK Las Vegas and Couture in years past.
As word spread of his untimely death, family, friends, and colleagues took to social media to express their grief about the talented artist referred to affectionately as the King of Cufflinks. Rotenier’s brother Rémy posted this note: “My wonderful, talented, loving, kind brother left us yesterday forever. Thank you all for the many messages of support. We are devastated. I will post the memorial information as soon as it is available. He was a treasure, I will miss him terribly.”
The Jewelry Information Center’s Amanda Gizzi tweeted: “Heartbroken. Rest in peace my dear, dear friend. I will miss you tremendously. Your smile will never fade from my memory.”
Jeweler’s Resource Bureau’s Cindy Edelstein recalls his hand-drawn holiday greeting cards, his devotion to his son and daughter, and his generosity to others. “When my daughter was in 5th grade, I wanted to do the jewelry badge with the girls (I was the girl scout troop leader),” she says. “Robin offered to let me bring all 13 of them to his studio. He gave them a tour of the studio, explained wax casting, gave them all bits of wax and let them mold it and make whatever they wanted. And then he cast them all in sterling. And he wouldn’t let me pay for the metal—he was happy to give it to the girls.”
Gizzi told JCK this morning that she had just spoken to him a few days earlier about scheduling a lunch date. “There’s not a person who met him who didn’t love him,” she said, adding that she had worked with him on media opportunities through the JIC for 13 years. “He truly cared about those around him and about supporting industry, and that was reflected in how long his team of bench jewelers and office staff had been with him. He was truly passionate and good to those who were around him. I even gave my husband cufflinks made by Robin 10 years ago on our wedding day. Robin was a dear friend, and this is a true loss for industry and New York.”
Former JIC and longtime jewelry PR associate Helena Krodel also reminisced about her friendship with Rotenier and his impact on industry. “He was a man of style, a man of grace, a man of loyalty, and a man of creative beauty,” she explained in an email. “I just can’t believe he is gone. He blazed a trail in the men’s jewelry arena, and his men’s jewelry is like no other: the cleverness, the irony, the beauty, and execution are unmatched.”
Rotenier’s brother Rémy even mustered the bravery to phone JCK this morning from his home in Albuquerque, N.M., to profess his love for his sibling.
“My brother was kind, loving, intelligent, and creative—he was so many things that I just couldn’t just stop telling you how exciting it was to be in industry together,” said Rotenier, who runs his own jewelry design business, Rémy Design. “Though we had different ways of seeing things, we adored each other and were very close, talking on the phone every day. He made me laugh all time with his ideas, and he had a way of seeing that was so different…his perception of design was so intriguing that I always wondered what he would come up with next. He loved his clients and loved pleasing people, and was so well respected in industry. One time in Las Vegas we were together during the shows, and it was impossible to walk through them because he was talking to everybody! I always thought that perhaps I was on this earth to keep him in line with his appointments! I even left Paris years ago to take a job in New York City to be closer to him…and he was so proud of me and so supportive. But he was also so sad sometimes, and I couldn’t lift him up. He worried about too many things, though I kept telling him how much people loved him. My heart is broken.”
Rémy Rotenier is flying to New York City tonight to make arrangements and will notify the trade when a memorial date is set.
UPDATE: Funeral arrangements are available here.
A photo Robin Rotenier shared with Facebook friends, including (left) the Jewelry Information Center’s Amanda Gizzi and (right) Last Word Communication’s Michelle Orman from last summer. “At the 700+ Women’s Jewelry Association event with two of the industry’s most talented ladies, Michelle Orman of Last Word Communications and Amanda Gizzi from JIC, just after [Amanda Gizzi] received the Award for Excellence [for marketing and communications]. They are a source of inspiration!” —with Michelle Orman and Amanda Gizzi.
Photo courtesy Michelle Orman
Airplane motif cufflinks in silver from Robin Rotenier of Rotenier New York