In the Diamond Mind: Marie Helene Morrow

A conversation with Marie Helene Morrow, Owner, Reinhold Jewelers

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Marie Helene Morrow

“Apples are always falling from the tree. It is up to you whether you are under the tree ready to catch them.” In the case of Marie Helene Morrow, it is jewels that fall from the tree and she does not appear to have let a single one slip through her fingers. In 1972, Marie started her career behind a small counter in the legendary Velasco store in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Today, 12 Reinhold stores and a powerful digital presence continue to curate fine jewelry by artists as varied as Alice Cicolini, Bibi van der Velden, David Webb and Sevan Bicakci for discerning buyers across the U.S. and Caribbean. The brand sets itself apart by reflecting the connection between artist, environment and history. So, it is no surprise that family history kept coming up in Marie’s responses, beginning with the story of her grandmother’s diamonds and continuing onto her own pearls of wisdom, like the above quote.

Q: What’s the story of your first diamond? 

My love of diamonds goes back to my earliest childhood memories of my grandparents in Haiti. When fleeing Vienna during the holocaust, my grandmother hid a pair of diamond earrings that she would later wear every day to remind herself of survival. I grew up admiring those earrings and associating diamonds with strength, resilience and the beauty of hope and renewal. I still wear them whenever I need to feel my grandmother’s strength and love.

Q: What excites you most at the moment?

There are two things that I find inspiring during this unprecedented and challenging moment. First is the creativity and ingenuity that is so visible around us. As people learn to adapt, we are finding new ways of doing business that provide an even better experience for the consumer – and of doing work that is productive and allows for a work-life balance. There is a reset and pivot that will allow us to emerge more successful and happier. During the time we were quarantined, and our stores were closed, I spent time learning about the flu of 1918 and how it inspired so much literature and art. I look forward to seeing what this time of stillness will inspire in the artists of our time and the artists we showcase in Reinhold.

The second thing I find exciting at the moment is the spotlight on racial equity and the elevation of diverse voices and experiences. At Reinhold, we have always prided ourselves on finding designers from diverse backgrounds, often with less access to industry-wide exposure, and bringing their designs and stories to the forefront. I’m excited to see more of this as we become increasingly aware as a society of the beauty that comes from everyone’s unique lived experiences.

A Reinhold store

Q: What is your intention for the year ahead?

First and foremost, my intention is to keep our Reinhold family, both staff and clients, safe and healthy. There is nothing more important than that.  

I also intend to continue to reinvent ourselves. The story of Reinhold Jewelers is one of creativity and discovery from its inception – we will continue to stay true to these values. The world is changing and we will change with it.

Lastly, I intend to celebrate my 80th birthday surrounded by my children and grandchildren. I am equally proud to see some of my family taking on larger roles within the company and others charting their own course in careers that take them far from the industry. But there is nothing like the joy of working alongside a daughter or granddaughter, and I revel in every moment.

Q: What’s your greatest indulgence?

By far, my greatest indulgence is travel! I have such wonderful memories of our yearly family vacations and am looking forward to a post-pandemic world where we can vacation to new and exciting places again. My daily indulgence is sharing a glass of prosecco at Reinhold with our clients.

Q: What diamond destination is at the top of your list?

While I may not get there in time before it closes, the Argyle mine in Australia would be on the top of my list of diamond destinations. I would want to visit a country where diamonds are sourced in a sustainable and responsible manner, both for the environment and ecology and for people – where the entire chain is ethically minded. I’ve also grown to love colored diamonds and Argyle produces some of the most captivating.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in jewelry?

A little bit of serendipity and a heavy dose of passion. My first husband, Henry Reinhold, recruited me to leave my clothing business and join him in his jewelry stores after his general manager unexpectedly quit the week before Christmas. It was 1972 and I have never looked back. I simply love working in an industry that bring so much joy to others. The jewelry industry is made up of the most creative and fascinating people with amazing stories to tell through their art. To be the conduit between the designers and the customers is a daily privilege.

Q: What moment still blows your mind? 

Life is full of mind-blowing moments; it is our job to live in the moment so we can capture each one of them. Personally, the birth of each of my four daughters will always be the most awe-inspiring moments of my life.

Q: What life lesson has been the hardest earned, and taught you the most? 

My grandmother taught me, “Apples are always falling from the tree. It is up to you whether you are under the tree ready to catch them.” I have spent my life being ready to catch those apples. The lessons that have taught me the most are all related to being a woman in the business world. It has not been easy carving my own path, but I hope that through my experiences other women have been able to carve their own. I have used these lessons to mentor the women who work in Reinhold and throughout the industry, and hope that I have used my experiences to pay it forward.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself that it is okay not to be perfect and that self-compassion is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. I recently discovered a quote by Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Q: What’s next for diamonds?   

Diamonds will always be a symbol of beauty and strength. My prediction is that there will be an increased demand for transparency from the industry – consumers want to know that they are purchasing ethically-sourced diamonds in every definition of that word. My hope is that there will also be an increase in the storytelling.  Every diamond piece has its own unique story to tell – from the mine and country from which it was sourced to the designer who looked at that diamond and crafted something beautiful with it, to the customer who wears it with pride and passes it down, just like my grandmother’s earrings, to countless generations on.