June was a busy month for Walter Chefitz. He debuted his jewelry design firm, Walt Adler, based in New York City, at JCK Las Vegas—the exact same time he was trying to create his entry for the JCK Rock Star Competition.
“My entire career is like a pinnacle focused on this next month, and this is a challenge on top of that,” he tells viewers of episode No. 4. “I was cramming, trying to work on my piece, and at the same time get ready for the show. It takes five minutes to come up with an idea, but it’s the execution—the process—that is the challenge.”
Indeed it was for Chefitz. In an ideal world, he would have had three months—not three weeks—to work on his unique piece of jewelry featuring Swarovski Passion Topaz Genuine Gemstones. But life isn’t perfect, and certainly doesn’t care about ideal timing and circumstances. So Chefitz pushed forward, never “shying away from this project,” observed Leila Tai Shenkin, the FIT advisor to all contestants, in the video. “He knows design,” she added.
With six years of experience under his belt as design director at David Yurman, the Miami native does have a keen grasp of the subject. His signature style is created largely in silver with 18k gold accents, with tribal patterns like a repeating WA motif and sideways-set marquise silhouettes. Finished pieces all have something of an optical illusion effect, a purposeful move on his part. “I’m going to try to create something that’s going to capture the eye, and then push you to think, and make you realize something that you didn’t see at first,” he tells viewers.
Chefitz called on Tai Shenkin for assistance in the color arena. “She helped me restrict choices from a rainbow palette to a couple of different tones,” Walt explained to me yesterday in a phone interview. “She helped me narrow down my choices to blues and greens.”
“The safe way with color is not to choose more than three or four,” Tai Shenkin explained during their meeting.
Ultimately, the colors worked well for the theme—which is a secret, even to this editor—of Chefitz’s piece, a bracelet (that much I was permitted to know). And you can gather that from the renderings visible in the film.
“I am satisfied with the final product,” he says. “I pushed myself further than I thought I could go, and I’m so appreciative and honored to participate in such a wonderful journey.”
What he would have liked even more was to spend more time with the other designers, working more closely with them. “It would be nice to collaborate with them as a team,” he says. “To bring all of our different expertise and tastes together and come up with something so different! What we could create together could be amazing.”
Like any good leader, Chefitz also recognized the people who help make his jewelry: “It took me to create the piece, but it took the support of my team and those around me to bring it to life; the result is a masterpiece that exceeds my initial vision.”
Five bucks says he didn’t recognize the premonition he mused at the beginning of the video—“Most likely [the project] will be tidied up at the very end”—nor did he envision himself working on the piece up until the very bitter end, as in 10 p.m. the night before the piece was due to judges. “I was on an airplane coming from Mexico, where my partner is located, the day before the reveal,” he concedes. “The time crunch was incredible.”
He thinks that’s what the “Uh oh” uttered at the end of the episode is about. “One week before, I realized that my piece was not going to be finished in time, or in enough time for it to be Fed-Exed back to New York City,” Chefitz explained “So, I flew down there and spent the whole weekend working on it, and flew back the night before they filmed my episode.”
Dome ring in silver and 18k gold from the Inspire collection; $1,850.