Just one look at the diamond jewels on these pages and it’s easy to see they are luxurious. Another way of saying it is expensive. After all they are dripping in diamonds and shining in gold. Of course, there is much more behind the jewels by Beth Hutchens of Foundrae, Marie Lichtenberg and Jessica McCormack than you can see at first glance. We spoke with all of them to find out everything behind these jewels and learn all the details that make them so worth it.
Jessica McCormack: Rainbow Diamond Earrings
London based designer Jessica McCormack looked at a rainbow, that colorful symbol of love and hope that appears after a storm, and reimagined it as a pair of glorious diamond earrings.
A lot of different diamond shapes make up the jewels. Each one includes round brilliants, baguettes, pears, heart-shapes, ovals and a cushion cut. All the gems add up to a whopping 28.30-carats. It takes anywhere from 80 to 100 hours and about eight craftsmen in the Jessica McCormack workshop located within the designer’s six-story boutique Townhouse in the heart of the Mayfair neighborhood to set all the diamonds in the earrings.
“The earrings combine our signature techniques like the cut-down setting and the blackened gold, as well as mixing styles from different eras, which is something I have always done,” explains Jessica. “When worn the diamonds move and swing—all stones sit in a collet and each one is attached to a neighboring collet via a small hinge.” In short, the design provides the type of joy you see when you spot a rainbow.
Foundrae: Strong Heart Bangle with a Heart Beat Story
Foundrae isn’t just a jewelry collection. It’s a language of signs, symbols and tenets rendered in gold and diamonds that founder and designer Beth Hutchens conceived as a way for clients to tell their story. Precious little Foundrae autobiographies have been written by countless people including Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Connelly. This year Beth opened a new chapter to the narrative with the Strong Heart Bangle and the Heart Beat charms.
The development of the designs began in 2019 when Beth was working over some Play-Doh with her young daughter Ayla. “I took the Play-Doh and made it a straw shape with hearts on the tips,” remembers Beth. “And I realized we should develop this.”
The years-long process evolved into the Strong Heart Bangle. Unlike most bangles that slide over the hand, a hinge and oval shape provides a slimmer fit to the design. The piece clicks together with a hidden clasp and opens with a cohesive push-button. An arm on the bangle features the original heart shape Beth made in Play-Doh.
So clients could personalize the Strong Heart Bangle, Beth created around 2,000 (yes, 2000!) circular charms named Heart Beats. The challenge was figuring out how they were going to fit on the Strong Heart Bangle.
“I didn’t like the sound of the Heart Beats sliding around loose,” explains Beth. “I wanted them to be stationary and intentionally placed on the bracelet.” Working hand and glove with her master craftsmen, who are situated in the Foundrae Tribeca New York boutique, the concept of a silicon strip hidden within the interior of the bangle came up and solved the issue.
“It was important to figure out the Heart Beats for the Strong Heart Bangle,” says Beth. “A jewel has to be a personal narrative to be Foundrae.” Among all the Heart Beats, the most popular is the Baguette Diamond. “People like lighting up their tenets with diamonds,” says Beth. That’s what we call a sparkling prose.
Marie Lichtenberg: Magic Eight Ball
As a child growing up in Paris, Marie Lichtenberg’s parents often brought her fun gifts they bought during business trips in America. “They gave me Nike Air Jordans, some Barbies and a Magic 8 Ball,” remembers Marie.
Flash forward to 2022, the designer was in her studio located in the Saint Germain des Prés thinking about how she would top the success of winning the Best Debuting prize at the Las Vegas Couture trade show, the premiere event for independent jewelry designers. When she looked at her old Magic 8 Ball, she thought that’s it. Literally that’s it.
“The Magic 8 Ball is crazy and cool and none of my friends had it in France, so it was special”
“The Magic 8 Ball is crazy and cool and none of my friends had it in France, so it was special,” explains Marie. “Over the years, everyone in my family has asked it questions and flipped it over to see the answers.” The designer called her production manager in Italy and they quickly turned around a rough sample. Once Marie realized it could be done, she knew she needed permission from Mattel who owned the property.
“I didn’t know anyone at Mattel so I sent maybe 500 emails on LinkedIn,” remembers Marie. After almost five months she finally heard from someone at the company. “When a smiling woman popped onto the Zoom and told me ‘I am so happy you found us’ and anything you ask of us is a ‘yes,’ I cried.”
Even though Mattel was working overtime launching the Barbie movie, they made sure Marie’s Magic 8 Ball got done by her deadline. Mattel created a micro cylinder filled with the proprietary blue liquid that makes the die float to the surface and a miniaturized die with seven possible answers to “yes” or “no” questions. They also rushed to get Marie the rights to use the property which they finalized at two o’clock in the morning the day the Couture show opened.
For her part Marie pulled together multiple master craftsman to finish the piece with the American invention on the interior. The gold ball features the designer’s signature brush coco Florentine finish. White enamel surrounds the diamond-set eight. And the chain is knitted gold wire.
If Marie asked her Magic 8 Ball, “Will I win the Best in Innovative award at the Couture show this year?” The answer must have said ‘For Sure,’ because she did.