Martin Katz has Sharon Stone to thank for making him one of Hollywood’s favorite jewelers. Thirty years ago, as a favor for Paramount Studios, he dressed the then little-known actress in glamorous diamond jewelry for her new film Basic Instinct premiere. After that red carpet moment, countless celebrities put Katz’s number on speed dial.
Over the past 20 years, Katz’s Beverly Hills boutique has been the place to both see and be seen, and to discover exceptional diamond jewels that are inspired by his love of beautifully made vintage pieces. His famous fans include Nicole Kidman, Gigi Hadid and Zoe Kravitz, just to name a few.
This week marks a new era for the storied jeweler who moved into one of Beverly Hill’s most famous penthouses, in the bright yellow landmarked Fred Hayman Building. The prestigious address was a natural evolution for Katz, who designed the space as an elegant living room and lounge. Here, guests can expect the utmost privacy, along with a cocktail or Champagne on the terrace. And, of course, trays of stylish diamond and gemstone jewelry.
The new Beverly Hill’s destination was designed shop, sip, and sparkle.
As part of Beverly Hill’s cultural and social scene for over 20 years, Katz couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take over the Fred Hayman penthouse when it became available. “The penthouse represented classic Beverly Hills style, fashion, and sophistication,” he says. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the late Fred Hayman, he is the retailer credited with transforming Beverly Hills’s Rodeo Drive into a world-class shopping destination. From the mid-1960s until 1998, Hayman was the unofficial mayor and host of Beverly Hills. Even Julia Roberts had a shopping spree in Fred’s store in the movie Pretty Woman.
The timing was right. After two decades with a storefront on Brighton Way, Katz saw the new space as an opportunity to shift his business. “Following Covid, everyone was calling for private appointments. Over the years my clients have become friends and I wanted to create a lifestyle space where they could lounge and see jewels in private.”
The penthouse reflects the Beverly Hills lifestyle: The elevator opens into an expansive bright space, which is anchored with a fully stocked bar, plush couches and a furnished outdoor terrace.
The jewelry designs have evolved too. “My clients are requesting clean, contemporary designs,” he says. He’s seen a move to more solitaire diamonds, but don’t expect the basics from Katz. He’s offering 12-carat pear-shaped diamond drop earrings and rings set with 10 to 15-carat oval, moval (marquise and oval combination) and emerald-cut diamonds. During the pandemic, he says, his bestsellers were larger diamonds.
There aren’t as many black-tie parties and events as there were a few years ago, Katz says, but his clients still want sizable diamond jewelry that is less fussy and can be worn day or night.
Katz’s style was always more about subdued elegance, exemplified by pieces like a ring with two pear-shaped light brown diamonds floating on a rose-gold band, or geometric-shaped pink diamond earrings framed with trapezoid-cut diamonds. His signature style features diamonds and colored gems set in minimalist gold designs with hardly a trace of metal showing. That’s exemplified in his popular Micro bands, a super skinny diamond or gemstone band that clients stack in multiples.
The new red-carpet rules.
When Katz’s jewelry ruled the red carpet in the 1990s and early aughts, he says the celebrities often came into the store to select the jewelry themselves or invited him to their homes with jewelry to see what looked best with their dresses. “The celebrities were so appreciative that we loaned them the jewelry,” he recalls. “Jodi Foster came and picked up and dropped off the jewelry herself.”
What were his most memorable red-carpet moments? “There were so many great times…the house calls, the last-minute changes, it was fun.” One of the most influential entrances, he recalls, was when Nicole Kidman wore Dior’s chinoiserie-embroidered chartreuse dress with Katz’s chandelier earrings at the 1997 Oscars. She was touted as the best dressed by many that year, and the chandelier earring trend took off.
Today, he points out, most of the clothes and jewelry that celebrities wear are tied to paid endorsements and deals. But Katz says, “I never paid for people to wear my jewelry, and I never will.”
Even so, many celebrity clients now come to purchase or commission jewelry designs. But it’s not just celebrities. Katz says, “I’m so grateful to the clients from across the country who recognized my art and buy my jewelry to mark special occasions.” Now, he plans to spend more time with clients in his new penthouse because he says, it’s not just about the jewels, it’s about lasting friendships.