JCK Asks…Irene Neuwirth

The colored-stone queen makes us wish we all could be California girls

Anyone who takes a close look at Irene Neuwirth’s kaleidoscopic colored stone creations won’t be a bit ­surprised to learn she’s a California girl. “The ocean and the colors here are my top sources of inspiration,” says the Venice, Calif.–based Neuwirth. And suddenly it all makes sense: the cerulean clear night sky in chunks of lapis, the blue-green waves of the Pacific in pieces of turquoise and chrysoprase; a postcard-perfect ­summer sunset in cuts of carnelian. Even her sparkling new ­Diamond Collection—which she recently debuted at ­Barneys New York—gets a boost from a bit of Rose de France amethyst, boulder opal, and rainbow moonstone. One imagines it would be impossible for the gemstone-loving designer to turn out a completely colorless line. And thank goodness for that!

Neuwirth’s signature gem: chrysoprase

Age: 35

Number of years in the biz: 8

Number of employees you oversee: 12

Family/pets: One large white Labradoodle named Teddy

Describe your personal style: Bohemian chic

Teddy modeling Neuwirth’s jewelry

First piece you ever designed: Beaded three-strand necklace with rubies and vintage glass beads

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: All of them!

Favorite colored stone: Green chrysoprase

Most unusual stone you’ve ever used in a design: Opals

Neuwirth’s boulder opal and diamond earrings

What inspired your new diamond collection? Clients wanting more, more, more! There was a lack of youthful diamond jewelry and rings.

Best piece of advice you ever received: “Go for it!”

Worst piece of advice: “Sell anywhere since the economy is hurting.”

First job ever: Check-out girl at a general store in ­Telluride, and horse trainer

How did you get started designing jewelry? I was teaching horseback riding and making pieces in my spare time, and the demand grew quickly, so I realized I had to really take a leap and go for it.


If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Oooh…good question. Something creative, that’s for sure.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Long rose gold chain with opal and diamond charms I made for myself

Five items on your desk right now: Coffee, cutting tools, picture of my dog Teddy in my jewelry, colored pencils, notepad

Courtesy of Ecco/Harper Collins

Songs on your playlist: “Two Weeks,” Grizzly Bear; “A Million Years,” Alexander. On repeat!

Exercise regimen: [Personal trainer] Tracy Anderson

What did you have for breakfast? Eggs and bacon

Guilty pleasure: Alaïa cocktail dress and shoes

Drink (daytime/evening): Mint lemonade/tequila on the rocks

First website you check every day (not your own!): Net-A-Porter

Scent: Rose

How do you unwind? “Words with friends.” Great glass of wine and a dinner party on my porch ­overlooking the Venice Canals

Superstitious? Yes. Kiss the plane.

Book you’re reading: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain; Just Kids by Patti Smith

Book you’ve been meaning to get to: Hmm… 

Preferred news source: The New York Times

Main means of transportation: Audi clean diesel

Favorite movie: Harold and Maude

Who would play you in your life story? Maggie Gyllenhaal

Personal motto: No time like the present!

More fashion on JCKonline.com:
+ JCK Asks…Ippolita
+ JCK Asks…Maximillian Büsser
+ JCK Asks…Padma Lakshmi

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