As the daughter of diamond dealer Sherman Shatz, Laura Munder had amassed a sizable collection of diamond jewelry over the years. Satiated with diamonds, the stylish blonde developed a taste for vibrant, exotic colored gemstones and ultimately created collections inspired by her Palm Beach surroundings. “When it comes to jewels, forget the rules and simply buy what you love,” she says. “Jewelry is personal; it’s about emotion and passion, not the latest trend.”
When the Boston native moved south a decade ago, she was overwhelmed by the vivid tropical palette. “I’m awestruck by the way the sunlight enhances the colors of everything from the green palm trees and the flowers to the blue ocean,” she explains. “It gave me a heightened sense of awareness and excitement about color.” She expresses this interest through unique pieces—such as her signature gecko brooch that she wears either perched on her shoulder or peeking out of her jacket pocket—that exhibit bold combinations of color and texture. The whimsical reptile is composed of a mélange of sapphires in varying shades of pink, purple, and orange, appointed with diamonds.
Munder’s latest collection features large, high-quality Nigerian mandarin garnets, specimens that are becoming increasingly rare. The collection’s debut will coincide with the opening of her first boutique, in November on Worth Avenue. “When you look at these stones, you want to smile; they’re intoxicating,” she says. “It’s almost mind-boggling that this color exists in nature.” She combines the bright orange gems with pearls, sapphires, and diamonds in a variety of colors and shapes.
Munder initially became interested in unusual colored gemstones seven years ago, when she began using them in custom pieces that a local master goldsmith made for her. An enthusiastic response to the jewelry from her Palm Beach friends prompted her to start producing pieces for private clients in 1998. Five years ago, she debuted a full collection at Neiman Marcus.
“I learned about jewelry from my father, who had an incredible eye for diamonds,” says Munder. She has since earned her own reputation for selecting rare colored gems. One recently completed suite of earrings and a necklace comprises mint green tourmaline and morganite stones—a perfectly matched collection that was acummulated and cut to her specifications over the course of a year by master cutters in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. The resulting one-of-a-kind necklace is priced at about $170,000.