Three years ago, Beth Bugdaycay took a big leap. After working as CEO of the ready-to-wear women’s fashion label Rebecca Taylor for two decades, she left to launch her own jewelry line, Foundrae, with her husband, Murat. Since its debut, Foundrae’s designs have become hugely popular—the pieces are often described as “modern heirlooms” and include Bugdaycay’s fresh take on cigar and signet rings, medallion necklaces, and various charms. Each piece draws inspiration from antique designs but is crafted with a contemporary sensibility. They serve as modern-day talismans, with many of them imprinted with motifs that symbolize progress, karma, balance, strength, and protection. In a market packed with pieces that take broad swipes at being personal, Foundrae’s designs have struck a chord, with encouraging emblems that are subtle but still distinctive.
Bugdaycay describes Foundrae’s first-ever boutique in Tribeca as “cozy and eclectic in a New York way.” The airy, 2,200-square-foot space is housed in a landmark building that dates back 151 years. In addition to chic design elements—think soaring 18-foot ceilings, snow-white Calacatta marble floors, custom porcelain sculptures, colorful one-of-a-kind artwork, and inviting, overstuffed leather chairs—the space provides free on-site customizations for clients as well as a collection of about 1,000 books available for check out, complete with traditional library cards.
“Everything is a labor of love,” says Bugdaycay of the new space. “We like sharing our symbols and ideas with people. I know our price point can be intimidating, so I still want there to be a positive customer experience for people that can’t afford to buy the jewelry right now. We loved the idea that anyone can come in, borrow a book, and feel inspired—they can still come in and leave feeling fulfilled.”
As the new store opens its doors, we talked with Beth about her most treasured jewelry, her go-to pieces for every day, which books catch her eye, and more.
Most Sentimental Pieces
I have a medallion my mom gave me—it’s a big sterling-silver coin. It commemorates the Mexican Olympics, and she wore it practically every day in the ’70s.
Another one of my favorites is a gold ring made with what is definitely not a real diamond. It was given to me by a neighbor when I was in kindergarten for when I played Alice from Alice in Wonderland [in a school performance]. The ring is so small, maybe a size 2—it doesn’t even fit my pinky now. It was my first real piece of jewelry, and it meant a lot to me. I felt so grown up, going onstage with my diamond ring.
I collect books. When I go on vacation, my souvenir is a book—antique, always antique! Oftentimes, I am a sucker for the ones that grab you with their title, like this tiny book that I got in London; it’s from the late 1800s, and it’s called How You Like It.
What She’s Wearing
Jewelry has always defined my personal style. I feel naked without it. I have three Foundrae necklaces, one cigar band, and a thin band that says “With Every Breath.”
I’m definitely going to get more, but I also know that a baker shouldn’t really eat all his donuts.
Last Piece of Jewelry She Gave to Someone
I had a friend that was going through a divorce, and I gave her a Foundrae Strength medallion because I really felt she needed to remind herself of her own strength.
Designer She Admires
Sevan Bicakci has his own voice, and I admire that. I like it when people can say, “This is my aesthetic,” and they don’t try to be everything to everybody. There are a lot of different customers and designers out there; we can all find a match.
Cool Conversation Starters
I like to talk to people and have substantive conversations rather than superficial ones, and I find that the kind of jewelry I wear opens those conversations up. People see [my jewelry] and tend to ask, “What does that mean?” And to me, that’s the beauty of Foundrae; it opens up a dialogue.