It was just after a few Tweets that Dana and I clicked and I knew she was someone who I wanted you to know.
She is young and talented, a skilled artesan, she traveled and lived in different countries, she is an artist and a woman of business, she was brought up knowing that to give back is the best form of living.
I stop right here not to spoil it, but be ready to land in NYC , do a fast tour of the world with minimal carbon footprint and a good deal of diamonds.
FB - DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A METALSMITH AND A JEWELRY DESIGNER?
DB - I didn’t! I was a very artistic young girl. My interests spanned from wanting to be an architect, to psychology, to philanthropy because giving back has always been important to me. But I ended up becoming incredibly inspired by my travels abroad and studying art history in Spain.
It all came together for me on a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There I discovered that being a jewelry designer was an actual career—up until that point, I didn’t know anyone who made jewelry. I became passionate about architecture, which inspired me to create drawings and three-dimensional designs.
I started to become so fascinated in jewelry with a strong sense of style. Those that told stories always made me stop dead in my tracks wherever I saw it along my journeys, and it helped me decide I wanted to create styles of my own.
FB - YOU HAVE BEEN TRAVELING AND LIVING IN DIFFERENT PLACES, DO YOU THINK THAT WAS THE CATALYST TO YOUR PHILANTHROPIC INTERESTS?
DB - I do think that traveling and living in different settings opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone lived the way I did. I was lucky enough to have been raised in a family that taught us the value of giving back from day one, which is always something that was important to me. I think having different experiences in multiple areas of the world allowed me to understand that giving back was not only a nice thing to do, but that it was absolutely necessary, and gave me the sense of independence to be able to believe that I could perhaps make a difference, however small.
FB - YOU USE RECLAIMED PRECIOUS MATERIALS, CONFLICT-FREE DIAMONDS, RECYCLE SCRAP TO THE BEST OF YOUR CAPACITY IT ALL SOUNDS A WORK OF HIGH LEVELS OF CRAFTSMANSHIP.
DB - Thank you! I design with my heart, and make sure that everything is created from extremely high-quality materials by extremely talented craftsmen which is done right here in the diamond district of New York City, so I can work with my jeweler face to face and oversee the process each day.
FB - WE FIRST HAVE CONNECTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA FOR OUR PENCHANT FOR THE SLOW FASHION MOVEMENT, HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO FOLLOW SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES?
DB - While in jewelry school, I learned about how destructive diamond mining, and gold mining even more, is to the earth, and the often harmful toll it takes on the workers who work in the mines who are rarely trained on the necessary safety precautions while working in the mine.
After learning about the toll jewelry takes on the earth, in keeping with my commitment to society, I knew that I couldn’t ignore what I had learned and felt committed to not only working with recycled metals, but to practicing sustainability however possible. I believe it is a responsibility of mine to help educate the consumer about the process behind their jewelry.
FB - TO BE A SUSTAINABLE BRAND YOU NEED STRENGTH AND COURAGE TO MAINTAIN THE PRINCIPLES OF TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS, HAVE YOU EVER FOUND RESISTANCE OR OBSTACLES?
DB - Yes, it’s not easy. It limits who you can work with and from where you can source materials, but it also means that you want to work with people you can trust and allows you to work with better people and resources as a result. I think it’s mostly important to be transparent and authentic and practice what you preach instead of just jumping on the sustainability bandwagon, which many larger jewelry companies do. I try to keep my carbon footprint as low as possible with my brand and across other areas of my life as well.
FB - HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEING A WOMAN IN BUSINESS WITH BEING A TALENTED, SKILLED AND HIGHLY QUALIFIED ARTIST?
DB - While it is challenging to find balance, I am very lucky that I live in New York City, which is constantly reinventing itself—the city is so full of beauty and inspiration and has such a strong, motivating energy. I believe it was Picasso who said, “Inspiration exists, but has to find you working,”—and I completely agree.
I travel often to keep my eyes and environment fresh, so I never get too comfortable in any one place for too long, and am always exposed to new forms of beauty and inspiration. I have my best ideas for designs while I am doing something business-related. Each of my designs inspires another, and I love the challenge of seeing how many pieces I can design out of a key concept.
Additionally, I’m lucky enough to have a strong community of industry veterans and experts who I feel comfortable seeking out for advice, and while I love the creative aspects of design, the technical aspects drive me crazy, so I work with master jewelers who can bring my visions to life with more precision than I could while I’m working on another aspect of my business.
FB - TAKE US WITHIN YOUR #WEARREALJEWELRY AND THE CHOICE OF LEANING TOWARDS A MINIMALIST LIFE. IS IT A MOVE TO COUNTERACT THE IMAGINARY COLLECTIVE THAT ASSOCIATES WEARING JEWELRY WITH ADDING ACCESSORIES AND DIVERGING FROM MINIMALISM?
DB - #WearRealJewelry is not focused on having or wearing fewer accessories, but is about understanding and valuing the story behind a material object and its material value as an added bonus. I believe that jewelry made from high quality materials is more sustainable because it lasts longer and can be passed down through generations. These pieces hold meaning—something a cheaply-made accessory cannot.
So, it’s more about wearing less that you don’t love, and wearing more jewelry that really means something to the person wearing it. I have a story on my own blog atwww.DanaBronfman.com about the meaning behind #WearRealJewelry if you want to learn more!
FB - I AM FASCINATED BY THE CONCEPT OF JEWELRY BEING QUIETLY BOLD, CAN YOU HELP ME VISUALIZING IT?
DB - My designs have a boldness to them. Through edgier shapes and unconventional color combinations, the pieces are also understated through matte and hammered finishes. So while they have a distinct point of view, they are not “loud.”
I think this concept reflects itself in the women who wear my jewelry—they like to think of themselves as slightly unconventional and take pride in being individuals with their own unique sense of style. I believe they agree with me that being understated and original is chic, not flashy.
And now tell me if you are not in love with Dana!