From Sea to Store: Martin Katz’s Sea-Worthy Starfish Jewelry

Nature is an evergreen motif in jewelry design, but Martin Katz, one of Hollywood’s go-to red-carpet designers, isn’t fond of its creepiest, crawliest creatures. “Not everyone likes bugs,” he says of the recent industry trend of bejeweled insects. “They creep people out.” Starfish, however, “are very whimsical—not creepy at all. There’s something really wonderful about them.” Katz crafted this glittering diamond, pink sapphire, and pearl starfish brooch—which has a diamond- and ruby-covered twin—in the early 2000s in his Parisian workshop. Captured in mid-undulation, the starfish “seemed like a wonderful shape with great volume to work with,” says Katz. Both pieces were part of a larger collection, Bijoux de Mer, which also included seahorses, exotic fish, and octopus. “I love the water,” adds Katz, who spent the past summer zooming around on a private yacht with his family. “And as a kid, who didn’t like starfish?”

Pop of Pink

This piece features 9.43 cts. t.w. pink sapphires (237 total), 6.27 cts. t.w. round diamonds (276 total), 31 cultured pearls ranging from 2 mm to 6 mm, and a single 12.5 mm Tahitian black pearl in the center. All gems are set in antiqued sterling silver layered on top of 18k yellow gold in the style of Victorian-era jewelry.

Wild Kingdom

Katz recently corralled his nature-based jewels with an idea to assemble a mini-retrospective for his 25th anniversary this year. “We’re pulling a few things out of the vault and having some fun bringing back older pieces,” says Katz. New additions will be available at retail, but the signed and dated starfish—which he estimates would fetch $90,000–$100,000—“may or may not be” for sale.

Drawn Together

Katz, who creates most of the brand’s pieces himself, worked with his painting artist to draft the gem details and playful stance of each starfish before they became jewelry. “It took us months to finish that collection,” says Katz. “We went through many iterations of sketches. Then we probably worked on the starfish pins alone for a couple of months.”

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