Anna and Rachel Aschendorf are like most twins: They have a kind of secret language between them. Only for these twins, it’s jewelry.
They understand each other within this realm implicitly, having grown up in New York within the jewelry industry. While they say they’re indecisive in other areas of their lives, the one area that always makes perfect sense is how they want to build their new jewelry brand, Gemella Jewels.
Gemella means “twin” in Italian, and the duo thought it was a natural fit that it already had the word gem in it. The final touch was that their grandparents, who started the family jewelry business, used the initials GJ on their original packaging.
The brand made its debut at the Couture show in Las Vegas this year, but its initial collections, such as its signature Sweethearts, are already popular across social media and among jewelry fans. That Sweetheart style reflects who they are as jewelers as well as sisters—the matching pear-cut stones create a singular heart.
Rachel Aschendorf received her diamond certification in Tel Aviv, Israel’s, Diamond District and worked in various areas of the jewelry industry from wholesale to retail. Anna has her graduate degree in diamonds from the GIA as well as the Diamond District in Tel Aviv and works as a bridal and jewelry consultant for Stephanie Gottlieb, who recently designed Britney Spears’ wedding jewelry.
Gemella may be a young brand—it will celebrate its third anniversary in business in August—but it has a classic sense of style. That’s because the Aschendorfs say they work in the same office with their mom and aunt, and they consider their grandmother, Stella, to be their ultimate design mentor.
“What’s old is new again,” Rachel Aschendorf says. “We always like creating timeless pieces that are the category of ‘we could have stolen it from our mom’s closet.’ Everyone’s favorite place to shop is their own mom’s closet.”
This “anti-trend” sentiment is found in their use of bezels—which may not be trendy but is something the family has done since their grandmother started in the business back in the 1950s, Aschendorf says.
One of their latest collections, Stella’s Vault, is a direct tribute to their grandmother’s work as an innovative jewelry designer and style icon. Stella’s Vault comprises high-end pieces that includes a necklace that is made in 18k gold and features a chain made by the same manufacturer that the twin’s grandparents used.
“It is custom made, and it takes three or four months to get. That is why we can only make eight or 10 a year. Whoever gets them has to be really special to us,” Aschendorf says. “We’re so excited when someone buys one because we know they really, really love it.”
Their grandfather, Fred, got his start in the jewelry business as a messenger for a stone dealer and worked his way up. He and Stella created their own company, selling jewelry internationally. Today, the company continues through their mom and aunt, the twins say.
“They used to travel the world, and back in those times, it was very rare for a woman to have a career but also to travel like that,” Aschendorf says. “They went to Iran, Brunei, Colombia, Japan, the whole world. My grandmother was the matriarch of the family, and we still have a lot of our grandmother’s original designs.”
Another line inspired by their grandparents’ work is the Skeleton collection, which the twins say they were worried about initially because they thought people wouldn’t see their vision for its thin links. Instead, it has become popular for its lightness and vivacity. While it is classic, it also is uniquely Gemella.
“Every angle gives you so much sparkle without diamonds or stones. The gold does the sparkling,” Aschendorf says.
Because their work is inspired by and for their family, everything has to be immaculate, Anna Aschendorf says. “It’s a blessing and curse,” she jokes.
Top: Rachel Aschendorf and Anna Aschendorf are twins who launched their personal brand, Gemella Jewels, after living a life enriched with jewelry thanks to their grandparents, Fred and Stella (photos courtesy of Gemella).@jckmagazine
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