Must-See: Katey Walker’s Jewelry Capsule for The Conservatory at Hudson Yards

New York City is abuzz with the opening of Hudson Yards, where, as we reported last week, jewelry and watch stores play a starring role in the towering complex’s retail tableau. These largely comprise big-name luxury jewelers such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, but one boutique, The Conservatory, billed as a gallery-format multibrand concept store, is providing a platform for a number of indie fine jewelry designers, including Eva Fehren, Paige Novick, and Jennifer Fisher.

Conservatory interiors
Interior of The Conservatory at Hudson Yards. Says owner Brian Bolke: “Jewelry is central to the store, literally. Our big, beautiful display case has been the center of attention since opening, with Will Kahn of Town & Country doing the display and editorial work for presenting the brands.”

For one such designer, Katey Walker, The Conservatory’s opening held special meaning—it’s her first-ever partnership with a brick-and-mortar store (select pieces of Walker’s collection are currently available online at Moda Operandi and via her own website).

Walker was introduced to owner and “chief visionary” Brian Bolke (cofounder of the renowned specialty store Forty Five Ten before leaving the company in 2017) through brand consultant Amalia Keramitsis. “Amalia was wearing a piece of my jewelry that he noticed and admired,” says Walker, whose studio is based in Essex, Conn., a historic town on the Connecticut River. “She later shared my line sheet with Brian, and then I met with him to show him my collection in person.”

Katey Walker drop hoop pearl earrings
Pretty, feminine, versatile: Walker says Moda Operandi, her sole online retailer at the moment, was drawn to her pieces with diamonds and pearls. Earrings with pearls and diamonds in 18k white gold, $3,400.
Katey Walker pearl ring
“Pearls have always been a constant for me, as they are beautiful, classic, and sustainable,” says Walker, who has a degree in jewelry design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and trained as a creative and bench jeweler with a well-known jewelry production company in NYC’s Diamond District. “They need clean water and a healthy marine ecosystem environment to grow and thrive, and there is something so positive and special about that process.” Ring with pearl and diamond in 18k yellow gold, $1,195.
Katey Walker Chainmail gold earrings
Nature is Walker’s primary source of inspiration, having grown up on the Connecticut shoreline. The colors, diverse waterscapes, found objects in the sand, and the area’s general vibe of tranquility manifest themselves in her cascading, multitiered earrings and necklaces and her clear affinity for soft, iridescent gems like moonstone and opal. Chain-mail drop earrings with diamonds and moonstones in 18k yellow gold, $5,500.

Walker and Bolke worked together to curate and develop a capsule collection for The Conservatory that’s informed by the designer’s strengths and signatures.

First up: a selection of earrings based on Waker’s pearl studs and hoops, and her Rock Candy series (pictured below) made with jagged quartz crystals that come from Arkansas. Each of these earrings is sold separately and comes in three different sizes. “I really love and enjoyed this approach, as varying the scales of the same design does give each piece a different look and makes it easy for them to be mixed and matched,” says Walker.

Walker rock candy earrings
“I thought it would be fun to incorporate classic pearls and gemstones with sharp, rebellious quartz crystal clusters,” says Walker. “As a jeweler and designer, it’s always fun to work with a challenging new material, as difficult as it may be to make the earring look floating and effortless on the ear.” Rock Candy earrings with Ethiopian opals, freshwater pearls, and quartz crystal in 18k yellow gold, $1,100.

“I think Brian really liked the sustainability concept of my jewelry, which is in line with his vision for The Conservatory. He also loves crystals as I do. In fact, I’d purchased a parcel of terminated black tourmaline crystals and brought them with me to our first meeting, and he immediately took to them. So we have some Rock Candy earrings with those black crystals, as well as the clear crystals, an idea that inspired us to include pieces that feature both black and white pearls, a mix of dark and light.”

Pendants and stacking rings round out the assortment, allowing shoppers to customize stacks and layering stories to their liking.

Here’s a peek at some of the pieces on the bench, mere days before they were finished and delivered (by Walker herself) to The Conservatory in time for the launch.

Katey Walker black pearl earrings
Bolke says his goal is to curate pieces that can become part of people’s everyday wardrobes, well loved and well lived in. These black freshwater pearl earrings, based on one of Walker’s signature designs, are a fine example, no?
Katey Walker WIP rock candy earrings
Rock Candy earrings in progress—note the terminated black tourmaline crystals.
Katey Walker wip pearl studs
Classic pearl studs with a twist. “I like to design studs that are classic but also subversive,” says Walker. “I want people to think, ‘Is that really a pearl earring?’ ”

Top: All of jewelry designer Katey Walker’s pieces are handmade from start to finish in her studio in Essex, Conn. A special capsule collection recently made its debut at The Conservatory, one of the most talked-about boutiques to open at Hudson Yards last week. This vignette was created for the store by @willsnotebook in his signature style (image via: @kateywalkerjewelry).


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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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