Bold & Brazen
Romancing the stones: Bigger is always better for jewelry designer Stephen Dweck
In Stephen Dweck's world of jewelry, bigger is almost always better.
"I think Wilma Flintstone is a true icon, with rocks around her neck," the brash Brooklyn jewelry designer said during a recent personal appearance at Tootsies when asked about his inspiration. "Wilma would have worn that at Bedrock Goodman."
Dweck pointed to a necklace of large mineral stones that look like they had recently been excavated from the bowels of the earth and polished to a shiny finish. "I like things that are rough and smooth at the same time," he said. "I'm very bold and brazen about applying jewelry design. It's the romance of the bigger stone. I don't go for the weak."
"I'm very bold and brazen about applying jewelry design. It's the romance of the bigger stone. I don't go for the weak."
Known for creating chunky one-of-a-kind "power pieces" —necklaces, earrings, pendants, rings and cuffs with intricate detail — Dweck has long drawn his inspiration from rocks and gemstones. He says it all started when he was a kid and collected marbles, along with stones that intrigued him. He launched his first jewelry collection in 1981 and soon afterward created jewelry to accompany the collection of iconic designer Geoffrey Beene.
"It was magic. When you are working with the best from the beginning, you can't fail to maintain that attitude," he said.
Even after 30 years in the business, Dweck still gets a kick out of designing jewelry. He says he doesn't get bored because no two stones are alike. "I respect the stone and the idea hits you. I know what's right and what's wrong," he said. "I'm always evolving but I never stray too far from my original principles."
Some of the pieces are dotted with a bronze Japanese beetle he calls Adam, modeled after a live insect that devastated his rose garden. "When you see Adam on a bracelet, you know they'll never see anything like it," he said.
His bold jewelry, which ranges from $195 for a pair of earrings to $20,000 for a large one-of-a-kind necklace, sells well in Houston because women here like to make a statement, he said.
"Houston has the most polished ladies in America. Here they enjoy dressing up. No one looks like they're out of a catalogue or a photo shoot. It's casual glamour."
During his Houston visit, Dweck took time out to visit the Menil Collection. "I felt like I was in heaven, with the sunlit galleries, the art and the architecture," he said.
He often visits museums to get inspiration from the art as well as from gallery-goers, whom he scrutizines to see what they are wearing. He proudly points out that several of his pieces are in collections at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But it's the individual customer that continues to motivate him.
"I feel so fortunate to be a part of what makes women sparkle," he said.