Julie Lamb is basically synonymous with New York. Born and raised in the city, the jewelry designer’s work is like a love letter to her home, with collections named Metropolis and City (each piece proudly engraved with “Made in New York”), joyful exclamations of such an iconic place.
Which makes it all the more appealing that Lamb would officially venture into the wedding jewelry category for the first time with a line of engagement rings and wedding bands that are tributes to New York as much as they are to true love.
Built for Love made its debut at NYC Jewelry Week in November, (just in time for those holiday engagements, perhaps?), a customizable line of rings made in the image of some of New York’s most awe-inspiring, memorable, romantic sights. Below, JCK talks with Julie Lamb about how customers received her new offering, her inspirations, and the perfect New York wedding.
What inspired you to enter the category of wedding jewelry?
I have been designing custom wedding and engagement rings throughout the years, although I hadn’t really marketed the service. A few of my closest supporters had been encouraging me to let people know about my commitment rings, but I wasn’t ready to enter into our industry’s biggest category until I had an original point of view to share. Once Built for Love was conceptualized I knew this was the right path for me to take, being that it ties back to my brand’s New York roots, an extension of my City collection. There was a time early on in 2020 where everything I read about our business pointed to bridal. I’m glad I waited to create an authentic story and didn’t rush into offering generic styles.
What has the retailer/customer response been to the new collection?
I previewed the pieces with NYC Jewelry Week in my 48th Street space. Customers were definitely impressed with the translation of the landmarks I chose to debut. We had a clear winner, the Empire set, an emerald-cut engagement ring and tracer band with three baguettes depicting the columnar structure. It was a challenge on some styles more than others to focus on the right details, making the ring’s inspiration recognizable but at the same time creating something attractive and timeless. I blew the ring images up on canvases to show their specific architectural influences and put together a behind-the-scenes scrapbook for guests to really understand the process from all angles.
I love how each of these is such a beautiful ode to some of New York’s most iconic landmarks. Do you have a favorite or one that feels most special to you?
I got engaged with the Rock Center ring, so definitely that one! An Asscher center framed with custom-cut trapezoids, it gives art deco vibes. My proposal went down years ago right across the avenue from where I’m working now, when I designed for Avon—he said that was the only way to surprise me since I’m the one who had it made! It’s a full circle moment to still be making jewelry in the very same corner of the city, now able to offer my favorite style right in Rockefeller Center.
A close second for me, and a completely different vibe is the boldly feminine bombé Bow Bridge ring. Its center is a rose-cut oval set in a soft 18k green gold with platinum; we made the bridge of the ring follow the spiraled design of Central Park’s romantic Bow Bridge. Floral engraving and thorn prongs are the final details picked up from this beautiful destination.
Talk a little bit about the design concept in memory of the Twin Towers—the description on your website is personal, beautifully written, and it’s such an inescapable, horrific part of New York’s modern history. It’s noted that the ring won’t be made for profit. Have you had anyone in touch to discuss its customization—if you are able to share?
I was a little nervous about how this design would be received, yet the landmark is too important to me to leave out. I approached it with the utmost respect, and my intentions have definitely been taken in the way I had intended. I long to see the old towers back downtown where they belong. I wanted it to be more about their architecture and less about the attack. I designed it from the perspective of looking up, both literally and figuratively, focusing on the steel tubing facade you noticed from the street view. A teardrop-shape stone sits on one side of this open ring, the negative space in between the teardrop and towers speaks to the void we are left with. For a gallery I added “Never Forget” in wirework.
A couple of conversations I’ve had were with people that had lost their partner or a family member on 9/11. It’s more of a mourning jewelry piece, a memorial connecting them to their loved one. There is plenty of room to engrave names, dates, a sentiment, or add birthstones, etc.
What’s your idea of an ideal New York wedding?
I had one! It should be more of a party than formal. It should be high up with amazing city views. A clean white semi-industrial space is always chic. Great food, of course—incorporate local neighborhood treats, whether that’s late- night pretzels and dogs, catering from your favorite Italian place, or the dessert craze du jour. This is a sexy bride and she likes to take fashion risks even on her big day. Magenta heels, risqué necklines, or an exciting second outfit change are to be expected! I think around 100–250 people is really nice, almost intimate for a wedding, the newlyweds will be able to speak to everyone that way. I prefer a DJ to a band (sorry, not sorry!) At least have both for the after-dinner dancing set. Socializing and dancing should take precedence over a long seated dinner. Now I want to plan a party!
Asking a New York expert—what’s the one thing someone visiting NYC for the holidays must do?
The great thing about NYC during Christmas is you can’t go a single block without some holiday cheer! Start down at the sensory overload of shopping and delicacies that is Chelsea Market and go up from there over the High Line with a hot chocolate in hand. Maybe catch the Macy’s windows on 34th but definitely get a view from the top—you’ve got a few choices now: the Observatory at the top of the Empire State Building, the sleek new Summit One Vanderbilt, or Top of the Rock—right before you’d come see me half a block from the Rockefeller Christmas Tree! We’ll toast to the season and style out a wish list for Santa. All elves don’t work at headquarters!
See more from Lamb’s Built for Love collection here.
Top: Brooklyn Bridge ring in platinum with diamond and sapphires, price on request; Julie Lamb
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