My Life and Career

My keen interest in art and design came at a very early age, and I feel fortunate to have made my career in this field.

It started at home, with my father who was an exceptionally talented painter, and my mother who worked for a millinery and would amaze me with her fabulous hat designs created with just the right folds and the deft placement of a few pins. Their fine examples instilled a love of art, design and the creative process in me, and their support led to my acceptance at the prestigious Art and Design School in New York.

With the boom in advertising in the 1950s and 60s, design was growing in importance, and the Art and Design School in New York was one of the top design schools in the country. Although most of my classes were directed toward design, I also enjoyed painting and, in particular creating landscapes with an emphasis on design and composition. I also excelled in silhouette and proportion. I'm very proud of the fact that, years later, a watercolor painting of mine won Best in Show at an Art School League exhibit.

But it was definitely my design illustration skills that were noticed most by my teachers. Still I was taken aback when they told me I had been selected among all my classmates to interview at the famous Cartier jewelry firm. Today, I still have to pinch myself when I recall my first meeting with Claude Cartier,himself.

As part of the interview process, Claude asked me to sketch a piece of jewelry, and I had never before sketched jewelry. So I rendered a floral broach. I remember Claude and his people discussing my design in French, and I was very nervous. What could they be saying? Clearly, they must have been impressed with my attention to detail and imaginative jewelry creation, as I was personally invited to serve an apprenticeship at Cartier by Claude Cartier.

Looking back at it today, I am still overwhelmed. Here I was, not yet finished with high school and working for the esteemed Cartier. I know now that what they saw in me was an innate ability to translate ideas into conceptual designs. I used to joke that I was like a visual stenographer, capturing the thoughts of a person and quickly turning them into finished sketches. I found out this process is what the French teach their young design students at the famous Ecole Boulle, which was the reason Mr. Cartier accepted me so readily.

After my school classes, I couldn't wait to run down the street to Cartier where I apprenticed under some of the top designers in the field, perfecting my rendering techniques, which are now hardly used a lost art form.

I learned that French designers, and jewelry designer, work differently than Americans and others. All are designers first, not jewelers. Rendering and illustration were what was important important, which things that I enjoyed and took to quite naturally. So I fit in well, and soon gained their respect. The process of quickly being able to sketch out concepts visually helped, in turn, to triggered more ideas. Rarely would there be just one sketch, but the process itself would ultimately lead me a path to the right design. This was my art, my joy and quite amazingly and fortunately my job!

It was also timely for me to join Cartier at the height of the Hollywood glamor era, where the mystery and allure of stars was real and tangle. And nothing brought true star power to life like Cartier, the favored jeweler of the Hollywood elite.

Early on in my life, I envisioned myself creating costumes and sets for the theater and movies. To be honest, part of my fascination was, and still is, with all the glamor surrounding the stars of stage and screen. As it turns out, I have been very fortunate to haven designed for many major celebrities and royalty from around the world.

Here I was, still at a relatively tender age, working with some of the biggest names in the world. They would come to Cartier and I would sit with them in a side saloon, reserved for private sessions, surrounded by Louis XIV furniture. To say I was a little bit nervous and intimidated at first would be putting it mildly. But a was very conscious of protocol and doing my job, which was to do right by the customer and the company. I found they became comfortable, and I became comfortable, when I learned to let them do the talking, and responded with my sketches, giving life to their jewelry dreams and desires.

I was very attentive when listening to clients, trying to understand who they were, what they were looking for or what they wanted to project. When designing a custom piece, the client should own it and it should reflect all their finest qualities and their interests. In my mind, jewelry was not meant to simply be an accessory. It should be a star on it own, and stand out and make a statement.

I understood, as well, that you are never creating for yourself. You are creating for the person who will wear your design. It is a matter of appreciating that every time a woman dresses to go out, no matter the occasion, she wants to feel beautiful and special. Of course, the final compliment of her good taste would be if someone stops and says: 'I love your necklace or your bag. Where did you get it?'

With that in mind, I have tried to make each and every one of my designs unique and special... a statement piece that will get noticed and be worn with great delight and self-confidence.

I guess the true testament of Claude Cartier respect for my work came when he guaranteed me a job at Cartier for life. And so for 28 years, I gladly worked at Cartier in many capacities, including Vice President of Design and Production.