A visibly more at-ease Rosanne Pugliese had her moment in front the judges of the JCK Rock Star competition, now available for viewing in episode 10. The Brooklyn-based jewelry designer, known for her hammered, asparagus-thin and metal-intense silhouettes in 22k yellow gold, was challenged to incorporate Swarovski Passion Cut Topaz stones into her Rock Star jewelry project, which had her a little intimidated at the start; if you recall from episode 5, Pugliese signed up for the challenge at a “time of soul searching for my business and my personal life,” she told JCK back in late September. At the time, Pugliese second-guessed her abilities and aesthetic, challenges she clearly overcame by the day of her reveal.
And even though FIT instructor and Rock Star advisor Leila Tai Shenkin tells viewers that she thinks that Pugliese had “not planned really well” as far as the execution of the project, she does admire her Mondrian design inspiration. “I don’t want it to be so obvious…but I want it to be recognizable,” explains the artist in episode 5. Her first sketch was “too flat,” according to Shenkin, but further refinement produced a highly architectural pendant necklace with oxidized silver accents for depth and seven Swarovski stones in mainly green colors. “I added oxidized silver to raise up the gold,” says Pugliese. The artist also pushed her own design limits. “I stretched myself through the boldness of it in size and shape,” she tells judges.
“I loved the way she strung trillion stones in the chain,” says JCK editor in chief Victoria Gomelsky, adding one caveat: “One of the challenges of a piece like this is that you just can’t wear it with anything—you really have to plan out your outfit.” And Pugliese definitely sees it as a focal point of an ensemble—be it a “little black dress or a white t-shirt and jeans,” she says.
Her signature aesthetic was visible in the color and width of the metal and in the chain link used—a point noted by judge Randi Udell-Alper, vice president of London Jewelers in Long Island, N.Y.
“Your chain looks very similar to the earrings you have on,” says Udell during the presentation. “It looks like you’ve taken some elements from your collections that you already have.”
“In the end I came back to what I usually do,” admits Pugliese. And Daniel Cohen, president of Swarovski U.S. Holding Ltd, isn’t sure that “she took it far enough outside of the box.”
I don’t necessarily agree with what Udell and Cohen seem to be implying—that perhaps her aesthetic wasn’t “different” enough for the purposes of the competition?. But I do think she could have used more stones, as that’s what Rock Star is about: showcasing the Swarovski gems.
Perhaps most important, Pugliese was pleased—the competition “got me out of some habits, so it was good,” she says—and, the piece garnered big praise from Gomelsky. “I love her work,” says the longtime industry editor. “It was very much of her style.”