Sean Kiely talks shop with jewelry designer Catherine Angiel
When thinking about high-end jewelry, what comes to mind? Tiffany, Cartier, Choppard and Bvglari are just a few names that many consider to be the classicists of fine jewelry. For decades, New Yorkers have strolled the windows of Fifth Avenue, dreaming of the day they can own a piece of this luxury. What is strange, however, is that most of the recognizable names in this luxurious jewelry industry belong to men. Then along came Catherine Angiel, who did not just take down the walls of fine jewelry design, she busted through them with a sledgehammer.
Angiel isn’t you typical jewelry designer. While she was at the forefront of female jewelry designers, she didn’t attend design school, her pieces don’t retail for outrageous prices and her work experience includes drum solos, as her previous career was a drummer in a Rock 'n' Roll band. As one thing led to another in inspiration began to take control and before she knew it her love of music turned into a profitable design business.
“I’m really inspired by what evokes emotions in me, which is love, romance, music – and that’s how I get my ideas. I can be listening to a song and all of the sudden it will inspire me to create something, hence the "Dangerous" Collection, which is really Rock 'n' Roll inspired.” While music has had the most obvious impact on her opulent creations, the people in Catherine’s life have inspired her as well. “Love is also a fantastic Muse. I’m really inspired by my partner Martha – just her style and the way she puts herself together will give me some ideas.”
Angiel has created five unique collections - Dangerous, Androgyny, Renegade, Delicate and Glam – each evoking Catherine’s fun yet sophisticated spirit. Using distinctive elements and unconventional materials, Angiel creates jewelry bursting with personality, yet remains subtle enough for the red carpet and the mom pushing the baby carriage down the street. “I love working with unusual stones. Whether its black diamonds, or gray diamonds, I’m really inspired by things that are unusual yet can be brought into a classic type of design.” While her pieces might be considered to be dark, they are the perfect combination of a hard attitude and a soft soul.
Angiel’s designs are made for a wide array for clientele, and many times she works with her clients to make sure what they wear is exactly what they want, customizing pieces to any specific need. “I design for a cross between Audrey Hepburn and Angelina Jolie. To me, those are powerful women in their own right, one being more demure, the other being out there and more edgy, but I still get that feminine, delicate, yet sexy twist.”
Angiel, like her clients, is a strong woman with visions of success. Celebrities like Megan Fox, Lindsay Lohan, Ashley Olsen, Sandra Bullock, Rhianna, Parker Posie, Mary Louise Parker, Rosario Dawson, The Pussycat Dolls and Sarah Jessica Parker have all been seen rocking pieces from Angiel’s collections.
One of the most important lessons Angiel has learned over the years however, is that often times the vision of success means remaining true to one’s self. “I know I have to do what’s in my heart, and I have to design what I’m feeling. It has to be less about ‘What does the client want?’ because when I design what I think the client is going to want and I don’t feel it, it’s the ring that doesn’t sell.” It is with this attitude that Angiel is seeing plenty of sales and noticeable press.
Of the highlights of her career, Angiel mentions the independent film The Guitar, in which her jewelry was exclusively used as a definitive element in the story telling of the movie. “(The producer) felt that our pieces really matched what the actress was going though in the movie. It worked in unison... and was a great match for the movie. It was truly an honor.”
While it seems that Angiel is well on her way to conquering women’s jewelry, her next move is taking on the men’s side. “There was a void for jewelry for men. It was either something plain or something vile. Men would love jewelry, if it were cool. Jewelry is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be expressive.” And expressive it is–her lighting bolt cuff links and cross necklaces will add a touch of edge to any outfit, with no motorcycle required. With the men’s collection already in motion, Angiel hopes to one day push the envelopes even further. “I love designing homes and gardens. I’m an artist and my pallet choices are precious stones and unusual metals, but to me art is everywhere. Anything that follows creation I would love to push my brand into.” If her boutique on Greenwich Avenue is any indication of her interior design capabilities, she will create some awesome places to call home.
In every ring, necklace and bracelet Angiel produces, her femininity with a punk edge shines through, providing clients with an individual sense of “something different and fresh... without any constraints.” While she might not have the brand name status of other designers in her genre, her pieces hold a name for them selves, and could help you build a name too. Angiel’s something shiny might not come in a little blue box, but it will get you some big attention.