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Women in Jewelry: A Conversation

Sotheby’s New York recently hosted a panel discussion “Women in Jewelry: A Conversation”. The panel was comprised of Linda Kozloff-Turner, jewelry designer and owner of Christine Marguerite Designs and author of the two volume book “100 Women of Jewelry”. She was joined by Kimberly Klosterman, a pre-eminent jewelry collector whose collection “Simply Brilliant, artist-jewelers of the 1960’s and 1970’s” has been exhibited at the Cincinnati Art Museum as well as Diva, Antwerp and Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim, Germany. Robin Wright, senior vice president and senior specialist jewelry, Sotheby’s was the moderator. Wright explained that the discussion was meant to “address the struggles and to celebrate the successes of tenacious women who shape the jewelry world.”

Robin Wright
Robin Wright, senior vice president and senior specialist, jewelry, Sotheby’s

Wright asked Klosterman, who collects women jewelry designers from the 1960s and 1970s, who she collects.

“During that time there were not as many women designers, there was Barbara Anton, Elsa Peretti, Helen Woodhull, Gerda Flöckinger and a few others” explained Klosterman of her collection.

Linda Kozloff Turner
Linda Kozloff-Turner author of “100 Women of Jewelry”

Next Wright noted that she found a statistic that 80 percent of jewelry designers are women, which she said seemed high, she then asked Kozloff-Turner what spurred her to write “100 Women of Jewelry”?

“As a jewelry designer, I was experiencing things that needed to be addressed. I was the only woman jeweler in Boulder and I was wondering if there were other women out there who were experiencing the same thing.”

Kimberly Klosterman
Kimberly Klosterman wearing a necklace by Jean Mahie

Wright queried both women as to whether or not they had experienced ageism, or not been taken seriously.

“I’m from Cincinnati and I find that big cities are very provincial. People there don’t take you seriously unless you’re from Los Angeles or New York,” observed Klosterman. Kozloff-Turner noted that she had an age range of designers in her book from their twenties to their nineties. “I hear from women in all walks of life and ages that times have changed and its very different now than it used to be.”

SahOved Necklace
Silver, gold and pearl necklace by Sah Oved, London, circa 1940

Next, Wright wondered if more innovation in design happened before mid-century or in more present days?

“Innovation happens in any century,” says Klosterman. “Modern things are always happening.”

Kozloff-Turner pointed to the parallel between fine arts and history. “Art was challenged in the 1960s. It was the catalyst to try new materials and cultural aspects, there are parallels between fine arts and history. Jewelry follows suit.”

Bridget Bardot
Actor Bridget Bardot, (left) with jewelry designer Lisa Sotilis. Bardot is wearing the Cleopatra necklace designed by Sotilis

Going forward, how do we pave the way for the upcoming new generation of  women in the jewelry business, asked Wright.

“When I interviewed the women for my book I asked what would you say to a young person  coming into the field? I would say welcome,” responded Kozloff-Turner.

Klosterman offered a practical approach, “there are many classes you can take from FIT, Pratt, 92nd Street Y, Sotheby’s and others. I had an art background and when I did a course, it opened my eyes to jewelry.”

Women Of Jewelry 1
Women of Jewelry, Vol. 1, book cover.
Women Of Jewelry 2
Women of Jewelry, Vol 2, book cover

Last, Wright asked Kozloff-Turner what inspired the designers in her book to create jewelry.

“It was life experiences, particularly the tough ones, that were the catalyst to create,” concludes Kozloff-Turner. “I was stunned by how some very deeply personal events inspired jewelry designers.”

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