Stephanie Albertson is a New York City based jewelry designer and artist best known for her distinctive collection of handcrafted fine jewelry. Since founding her company in 1999, Stephanie Albertson Jewelry (SAJ) has emerged as a leading independent boutique jewelry brand in the US.
Stephanie’s jewelry designs combine her appreciation of the classical principles of jewelry making with a distinctly modern and fresh point of view. Inspired by vibrant colors, luxurious textures and irresistible-to-the-touch materials, each piece in her collection is handcrafted using 22K gold and an assortment of fancy colored gemstones, diamonds and rare opals. Because each piece is hand made, and each gemstone carefully chosen, no two pieces in the line will ever be exactly the same. “Even when pieces come in a series, there is a nuanced uniqueness to them. Every piece has a personality and life of its own. I like to see my process in the final presentation of the piece – the bezel setting, the handmade nature of the chains, the mark of the artist. I strive for perfection in quality, materials and craftsmanship, and at the same time, there is something naturally imperfect that shines through in the finished jewel. That's where the beauty is for me."
When asked about her inspiration, Stephanie says, “I make jewelry that I want to wear. That’s where I always start. My jewelry is about color and having fun. I love the whimsical, magical and expressive power of jewelry, and especially the notion that jewelry should be fun to wear. Everything that comes out of my studio is in some way inspired by how I live – the colors, the materials, the textures are all about luxury, yet the vibe is relaxed and totally comfortable, livable, and most importantly, wearable.”
2015 marks the fifteenth anniversary of SAJ. To celebrate this milestone, Stephanie is introducing a collection of limited edition textiles and handmade functional objet, which she happily refers to as "jewels" for home. "I’m very excited to expand the creative output of my studio and venture into new categories of handmade luxury.”
I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. Jewelry, clothes, art, music, paintings. I never wanted to be anything other than an artist. I inherited a combination of art & commerce genes from my parents. I grew up in central Florida. Throughout my life, my father has been an entrepreneur. When my brothers and I were kids, his work saw him traveling through Europe much of the time. To keep the family close, we had a home in the south of France. My mother was an adventurer and art lover, and still is. Every morning she would put her kids in the car, point to a spot on the map, and off we would go. She was always interested in art and artists, and we’d often find ourselves in little villages meeting artists in their studios, hearing their stories and learning about their lives and work. My parents were art collectors, and years later my mother would open an art gallery in Florida where she championed regional contemporary artists along side many internationally recognized names. Two of our neighbors in France who were instrumental in encouraging my mom to open a gallery were David Douglas Duncan, the great documentary photographer who chronicled the life of Pablo Picasso, and the art dealer Leo Castelli. Spending time around all of these creative people taught me the importance of being curious, and that it was possible to make a fulfilling and prosperous life as an artist. This is a good thing, because I am not cut out to be an accountant! As an aside – Duncan and my mother also share a crazy love of dogs, another gene she passed onto me.
In college, I studied art history. Soon after graduating, I moved to New York and became immersed in music and theater. All of this time, I made jewelry as a hobby. Jewelry was always a big love. I was and continue to be an admirer of mid-century studio artists like Art Smith, and am a big fan of Mary Lee Hu and William Harper, two jewelry artists who have pushed the boundaries of artistic expression through jewelry.
I began to think that my jewelry hobby could become a career while working at Harper’s Bazaar magazine in the mid 90’s. I was fortunate to spend five years as the assistant to the renowned late editor-in-chief, Liz Tilberis. My years at Bazaar provided me with an unparalleled education in the business of fashion, publishing, PR, and marketing. I don’t think I would have had the kind of success I had out of the gate without that experience and the encouragement of my colleagues.
It was also during this time that I began formal metalsmith training at New York’s Jewelry Arts Institute. At the time, it was located on NY's Upper West Side, and it became a second home to me. It is where I produced my first jewelry collection, using their benches as my studio before I could afford a studio of my own. They let me bring my dog and I parked myself there for hours every day making jewelry. My first collection was a combination of fine gems set in 22K gold with a lot of cut out gold leaves that I made into long drop earrings and necklaces. I combined a lot of elements - raw and refined, leather with little diamond seeds that I called "enoki" because they looked just like tiny mushrooms. It was a very experimental time for me.
I set out to make the kind of jewelry I want to wear, and this remains true to this day. My jewelry transcends trends. I think of my work as timeless, collectible luxury. I'm very minimal in my approach - I don't like a lot of fuss or ornamentation. I like to let the stones dictate what a piece will be. My customers become collectors and my hope is they will love wearing their jewels and one day pass them on to the next generation of jewelry lovers.