Jewelry: Era of His Ways
Mish Tworkowski has no use for a high-profile Madison Avenue storefront. Instead, the New York jewelry designer has clients visit him in his 1890s townhouse, which is fronted by a delightful garden. The tony, tree-lined residential street on New York’s Upper East Side is an unlikely locale for a boutique, but Tworkowski’s discreet address removes his business, called Mish New York, from the paths of tourists and other window-shoppers.
Like his Gothic-style townhouse, the boyish-looking 45-year-old appears to be of a bygone era, with his trademark snappy bow ties, traditional Thom Browne sport coats, and gold-rimmed spectacles. “I’m more like a Paris couturier,” says Tworkowski, whose distinctive attire has earned him inclusion on Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed List several times. “I work directly with my clients to create custom, personal jewelry; it’s an un-American way of doing business today.”
Tworkowski, a former senior vice president of jewelry for Sotheby’s, designs each piece, selects the stones, and oversees craftsmen who make his jewelry in a Manhattan workshop. “It’s good to have an anal jeweler, for lack of a better word,” he says with a grin. “Jewelry is expensive. If you are not getting something that is absolutely beautifully made with the best stones, why bother?”
His personable, endearing manner has earned him a loyal following that includes socialite Kate Gubelmann, who recently brought the designer a bag of amethysts that had belonged to her mother. Along with the stones, Gubelmann gave Tworkowski the directive to “turn them into something wonderful.” He responded by creating a striking pair of bracelets with the large, emerald-cut, purple gems interspersed with bright pink sapphires. He christened the design the Kate bracelet and currently has a waiting list for his $40,000 variations, each of which has a unique color combination.
Another client, a business tycoon, invited Tworkowski to visit his private island resort in the Fiji islands last year. The trip provided the motifs for Mish’s latest collection. “I let my mind go free for two weeks,” he says. He gathered shells, coral, driftwood, and flower pods, laid them out in various combinations on his villa’s porch, and sketched the arrangements, which he later translated into gold and gemstone jewelry.
Tworkowski, who spends much of his free time cultivating the gardens that surround his country house in Millbrook, N.Y., is best known for his whimsical and brightly colored flora-themed designs. One of his most popular collections emulates the texture of tree bark. The pieces are made from white or yellow gold and appointed with multicolored sapphires and diamonds.
Among his favorite creations is a series of jeweled pagoda brooches that he based on England’s 18th-century garden follies, the Indian temples, Chinese bridges, and other structures that the British gentry would construct in their gardens after returning home from exotic destinations. The pieces, says Tworkowski, “represent my way of infusing today’s jewelry with old-world charm.”
Mish New York