ALEXANDRA MOR of New York is a force to reckon with, and her secret lies in simplifying and deconstructing complex ideas, to translate them into avant-garde classics. She dips into an arsenal of emotions and experiences to create one-off omnipotent pieces where gems take a central seat and the cursive metal, be it platinum or gold, gently works its way into the design to hold the gleaming beauties. This savoir-faire underscores Alexandra’s supremacy in unifying geometry, femininity and art, where gems, fancy cuts, colour and form integrate in a picture-perfect assemblage of mystifying beauty.
Each of her pieces includes the knife-edged wire, double-claw prongs, and yellow gold interior lining, a feature dating back to times of yore, when gold was used to line silver pieces for royals, to prevent oxidation. Alexandra’s High Jewelry collection is curvaceous and poetic with soft, organic silhouettes. Elegance and femininity are the hallmarks of this line. Her Vows line is about storytelling, and the love and commitment involved in crafting each piece.
Alexandra, in an exclusive interview with SHANOO BIJLANI, speaks about her journey from being a film-maker to a jewellery designer, and the art of bringing an idea to life!
You were born in the cradle of creativity – your mother was a seamstress, who made clothes for you until adulthood. Tell us more about that atmosphere and what triggered in you to regard bespoke pieces as symbols of power. You’ve also done a short stint as a production assistant in films. Did you also make films?
My journey into films started when I served as an assistant director. Later, I moved up through the ranks, from second assistant director, location manager to production manager and ended up as a line producer in films, commercials, TV series and documentaries, both locally in Israel and internationally. Throughout my journey as a film-maker, I felt I was missing the knowledge and history of the art and decided to take a break; I moved to New York and enrolled in the New School where I learned about film-making and its history from the best teachers and practices. What attracted me most in the beginning were mostly the people and talents I was working with and the exposure to create something that comes out of an idea: a story, a script, into something bigger than life. Film is an amazing medium of expression and the industry itself became one big family to me.
Detachable Diamond Bow & Ruby Earrings
A one-of-a-kind pair of detachable contemporary bow earrings made with details of knife-edged wire and 1mm diamond melee wire. The centre of the bow is set with emerald-cut diamonds weighing 0.84 carat. The earrings feature rose-cut rubies weighing 106.94 carats, pear-shaped rubellites weighing 6.88 carats, tear-drop rubellites weighing 14.80 carats, and pearls. Drop gems are accented with fancy-cut diamonds with a total weight of 0.35 carat. The detachable components create six distinct pairs of earrings that are set in platinum on 18-karat yellow gold with the Alexandra Mor logo.
How different is film-making from jewellery making? Are there any aspects that even today spill over into your present profession as a designer?
Both jewellery design and film-making are arts of human expression. They both rely on the small details that play a major part in the essence that they encapsulate. My film-making experience helps me daily, as I have a better understanding of the bigger ‘picture’, working independently with people, budget, production, timeline and bringing it all to life … making the idea a reality. I have learned that everything is possible, and when there is an obstacle, it doesn’t mean it’s over, it just means we need to find a new way to look at it and a new way to solve it. When I started designing, the skills I gained in my film-making years helped guide me in creating a business.
What made you learn jewellery making?
Love for design and craftsmanship. Jewellery has it all, as well as history and connection with people.
When did you start your own brand?
I took my time to develop my brand voice and design DNA and launched my brand to the public on December 2010 at Phillips de Pury. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I have had with Phillips, this is where it all began.
Your creations are very typical – bold gems held aloft by double claws, curvaceous ring shanks … The structures are Art Nouveau married with contemporary silhouettes. How did you arrive at these unique assemblages? Tell us about your inspirations. What leads you to doing such architectural pieces?
My inspiration comes from my own personal journey as a woman and the need to preserve what was given to us, in a holistic and relevant fashion. My work is a true juxtaposition of my love for history, the significance of oldworld craftsmanship, merged with contemporary aesthetics and technology. I have always held a great respect for the past, and vintage jewellery continues to serve as a source of inspiration, but I try to translate this into a neo-futuristic context, in overall design and composition. My collection celebrates the person as a whole, and the exploration of one’s juxtapositions – a client’s softness versus boldness; their femininity with an inner edge. Fashion, film noir and the striking lines of architecture all inspire this.
You create bespoke jewellery for brides-to-be and are happy to be part of their journey. How do you bring about your aesthetic strengths as a designer to understand what a customer requires and make something that has your stamp on it?
I offer clients an opportunity to work along with me and see how I design pieces from sketching and gem selection to the final product that evokes a unique reflection of their individuality. I was born into a family of French couturiers, and was exposed early on to the power of bespoke creations, while watching my seamstress mother and aunt at work. A client could chose from my ‘Signature collection’ of limited edition pieces, or a ‘Made-to-Order’ piece, but I intend to create an heirloom for the future.
You must be a good listener, observer and an empathiser, or else you would not understand what your customers want. Does it feel nice to be part of a couple’s first steps towards the journey of togetherness?
It is important that I first find the stone that speaks to my heart and next, my clients should find the right design that suits their persona – these are the key factors. I gather as much information as I can by meeting my client – who they are and what are their design aesthetics and their lifestyle – before I sit down to work. However, my signature details form the core of every piece as they serve as my anchor. They’re crucial as they are the building blocks of my creative DNA. Sometimes I use my signature details to bring out the beauty of the stone, and at other times, the essence comes about as an accent or makes a bold statement.
For a customer, I normally share three top-view pencil drawing design options. After the client picks out a favourite, I refine it together with him/her until we arrive at a final design. I love to take the collaborative approach and I consider it crucial to the success of the end-designed piece. This last stage is to transform the sketch into a one-of-a-kind jewel. Once the sketch is approved, I scrutinise every millimetre of the design and all intricate details. Once I perfect the design, actual production begins.
All my pieces are handcrafted and made in the USA and Italy, usually taking me about five weeks to four months to complete a piece depending on how simple or complicated the design is.
What is your design philosophy?
My collection is a tangible reflection of my own journey as a woman to this day. It is through the dialogue and interplay of hard and soft; oversized elements and the delicate; symmetrical and curved; feminine touches and edgy nature with retrospect to the past, present and future.
Which are your favourite gemstones and which is your preferred metal?
Like people, each gem has a story and a character that is uniquely theirs. I work with all kinds of gemstones. The most important aspect of choosing a stone is the character, rather than its kind.
How long does it take you to produce a collection? Tell us something about your various collections and their inspirations.
This is a profound question, as the way I see my work is more through inspiration, rather than a timeline. I feel sad for the way designers today have to abide by the fashion calendar and create collections based on timeline rather than on their inner voice and inspiration. This is the difference between art and mass production. I try as much as I can to stay true to my creative journey and keep any distraction out of the process.
What are your bestselling jewellery pieces?
Snowflake stud earrings and the wide diamond eternity band.
Tell us about your other hobbies.
I love reading and writing poetry, art, horseback riding, film noir, spending time with my family, hiking, meditation, cooking (but only when I have time) and swimming. All these elements are an integral part of who I am as a woman.