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Jewelry: Rock On

Jill Newman

Alexandra Mor had been eyeing the stone for weeks: an 85.30-carat, cabochon-cut emerald about the size of a plump strawberry. Mor, a jewelry designer in New York, was hesitant to purchase it because its color was uneven and it was dappled with inclusions. Still, she could not stop thinking about it. "Something about the various shades of green and internal textures made it even more interesting to me than a perfectly faceted stone," Mor says. To her surprise, she awoke one night with a vision of the ideal design: Rather than a traditional symmetrical setting, she would position the emerald on a slant, propping it up on one side in a simple gold ring with diamond accent. The next morning, she bought the stone. The result is a striking ring that stretches across almost two fingers—a piece that is bold yet not overpowering.

This obsessive attention to detail—from selecting each stone to sketching numerous designs and collaborating with jewelry makers to forge each unique piece—sets Mor apart from many top-tier jewelers. She deliberately keeps her business small and personal, and she meets with clients individually in her by-appointment-only showroom in the jewelry district. "I make what I like, what I would want to wear," says Mor, a stylish woman who credits her mother, a French-Israeli couturier who tailored intricate women’s clothing, for inspiring her passion for design and fine details. Some of Mor’s creations—which include rings, earrings, and necklaces—require months of work before they are ready to move into production.

Mor happened upon the jewelry world about eight years ago, while traveling on a stone-buying trip with her husband, Alon, a second-generation diamond cutter. She had been working in film production but was captivated by the beautiful gems. She enrolled in bench-jewelry-making classes to learn how to work with metals, and soon started producing commissioned pieces for private clients. That led to creating her own designs, which she calls demi-couture because each is handmade; most are produced in limited editions. Recently, Phillips de Pury & Co. requested five pieces for auction, but otherwise her work is available only at the showroom.

Mor relishes the opportunity to work directly with clients in designing one-of-a-kind pieces. The process begins with a series of questions about their personal style and how they wear jewelry. One woman recently requested dramatic coral earrings for dressy occasions. Mor created four sketches, and the client selected a version with large detachable hanging coral stones so she could wear them short or long, depending on the desired level of drama. While Mor is careful to tailor each piece to the woman who will wear it, she also always integrates her style signatures: thin, knife-edge gold lines; tiny diamond accents; and, as often as possible, big stones.

"Large stones," Mor says, "make me feel powerful."

Alexandra Mor, 888.944.2237, www.alexandramor.com

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Copyright by Julian Lee Studio
Photo courtesy of The Forbes Collection, New York