JCK Asks…Just Jules Designer Julie Romanenko



just jules australian opal ring
Just Jules Australian black opal and diamond cocktail ring

The Scottsdale, Ariz.–based artist behind Just Jules loves vintage detail and modern silhouettes

Whenever we’re in a blue mood—or, rather, in the mood for something blue—we visit Just Jules’ Instagram (@justjulesllc) and ogle the opals. “I am absolutely in love with opals,” says designer Julie Romanenko. Of course, opals go way beyond blue, and Just Jules’ jewels encompass more than just those iridescent gems. There are also her one-of-a-kind lockets, Roman coin pendants (“I love the idea of taking something old and revered…and bringing it to life again in a contemporary, modern-day silhouette”), and vintage-inspired engagement rings. As for the aforementioned opals, Romanenko is “celebrating” the stones in a collection debuting at this year’s Luxury show. “Stay tuned for more!” she teases.

lola the dogAge: 54

Number of years in the biz: 28

Family and pets: My amazing and supportive husband, Dan, and my pup, Lola [pictured].

Describe your personal style: Very casual but I always have on great jewelry! I have six bangles that I don’t ever take off—much to the dismay of the TSA workers when I travel.

just jules dreamcatcher cuffThe single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: I am ­especially proud of my Dreamcatcher bracelet [pictured] that won first place in Gold Distinction in the MJSA Vision Awards.

Best piece of advice you ever received: Back in 1991, I was at a crossroads and seriously contemplated going into my dad’s insurance business. His sales manager sat me down and asked if there was something that I was passionate about. When I responded “jewelry,” he encouraged me to follow my heart.

Worst piece of advice: To get a “real job”!

First job ever: I worked in a drugstore and had to put together the Sunday New York Times every week. That is no easy task. By the end of each day, my hands were black and I had a new appreciation for that newspaper that lasts to this day!

just jules novo vintage opal necklace
Just Jules NoVo vintage opal and diamond pendant in 14k white gold on gray diamond beads

How did you get started designing jewelry? My maternal grandmother loved jewelry and passed this love down to her daughters and granddaughters. I was a creative child, something else passed on from that grandmother. Put together the love of jewelry and my creativity…and a jewelry designer was born!

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? I would bake full time.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Six gold and diamond bangles, my wedding bands—my own, my mother’s, and my paternal grandmother’s—my maternal grandmother’s engagement ring, and rose-cut diamond drop earrings.

Five items on your desk right now: A pile of jewelry waiting to be priced for a show; a mug that says peace; a wax of a diamond bangle waiting to be turned into something fabulous; a small pile of opals to inspire me; a picture of my husband and my dog.

Five songs on your playlist: “Badlands,” Bruce Springsteen; “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” Elton John; “Harvest Moon,” Neil Young; “Someone Like You,” Adele; “Moon River”—the song I got married to!

workout equipmentExercise regimen: Something every day: yoga, cardio, biking, weight training.

What did you have for breakfast? Cappuccino and a cookie.

Guilty pleasure: My husband’s amazing custom-made-for-me cappuccino I only have on the weekends.

breakfast at tiffanys
Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Drink (daytime/evening): Earl Grey tea/very cold sav blanc.

Best part about living in Scottsdale: The beauty of the desert.

Favorite movie: Toss-up between Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Moonstruck.

Who would play you in your life story? Sandra Bullock.

Personal motto: “Be kind.”

(Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Everett Collection; fitness equipment: Alenkadr/iStock/Getty)