Ippolita on Early Jewelry Memories, Holiday Gifts, and Accessorizing the A-List

Photo courtesy of Ippolita
Jewelry designer Ippolita

As Madonna, Cher, and Beyoncé would likely attest, there's something über-fabulous about going by a single moniker.

Add to that an Italian pedigree with a penchant for gorgeous gems, and designer Ippolita's almost too chic to handle.

The Tuscany-born designer studied sculpture and art before moving to New York and launching her eponymous jewelry collection, which has since graced the necks, wrists, and ears of Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana, Sofia Vergara, Emily Blunt, Emma Stone, Christina Hendricks, and too many more to list.

FashionEtc caught up with Ippolita to talk about her muses, the first celebrity to be photographed in her designs, and the one piece of jewelry every woman should own.

Who is the Ippolita jewelry customer?

Every woman! The versatility of my collections really gives the line a universal, multi-generational appeal.

Do you have any muses that represent what your brand is all about?

My mother and my daughter are my favorite muses—they both have an incredible lust for life and are the perfect blend of classic and timeless, fun and fresh.

Who are some of your favorite celebrities to accessorize?

I design everyday jewelry to be worn by real women, so what's been most exciting for me is the range of celebrities who choose my designs—from Chloe Sevigny to Susan Sarandon. I also love that they choose to wear my jewelry on the red carpet as well as to the grocery store.

Who was the first celebrity you remember wearing Ippolita? What was your reaction?

Shania Twain was the first celebrity to be photographed in my jewelry and I remember thinking, "I've been discovered!"

How would you describe Ippolita jewelry in one word?


You create art as well as jewelry. What are the differences and similarities between the two mediums?

For me the mediums are very similar. The creative process is similar as is the attention to detail. There is an artistic hand that is visible in every piece I create, whether it's a sculpture of glass and steel or a gold link chain. The only real difference is that jewelry is "functional"—it is art that can be worn.

How does your work as an artist influence your jewelry collections?

As an artist, I express my personal creativity through a variety of mediums. As a jewelry designer, my job is to translate the spirit of the times into wearable objects through the thoughtful application of craft.

Ippolita bracelet

Photo courtesy of Ippolita

Forever Yours 18K Gold and Diamond Bangle Stack, $75,000; Ippolita.com

What was your relationship with fashion and jewelry like as a child?

Growing up in Florence surrounded by incredible art and architecture, I developed a true passion for craft and design. But It wasn’t until I moved to New York in my early 20s that I really engaged in and explored the close connection between fashion, jewelry and craft.

Do you remember the first piece of jewelry that really made an impression on you?

My mother's charm necklace—it's the epitome of a "statement necklace." Each charm is unique and represents a moment in time. It has inspired me to create pieces that are not only interesting and distinctive, but that will stand the test of time.

What inspires your collections?

The world is an endless source of inspiration for me—from art, to nature, to the women I see on the subway, I am always finding new ideas.

stanley tucci
Photo courtesy of Ippolita
Glamazon 18K Gold Link Necklace with R Links, $9,995; Ippolita.com

What are you working on for your next collection?

For Fall 2012 I have gone back to the basics in a way, but am evolving the shapes and pushing the limits of some of my favorite pieces and the techniques I use to create them. You'll see some exciting new colors, patterns and metal finishes applied to familiar silhouettes.

Since the holidays are upon us, what are your go-to gifts? Any favorites this year?

Jewelry, of course! But I also love a great, big coffee table book or a decadent scented candle—my favorite this year is L'Artisan Parfumer from Aedes de Venustas—it smells amazing.

What's your best jewelry advice?

Jewelry has a transformative power—it can lift a mood, inspire confidence, make you feel beautiful, so I always tell women to wear what they love and what feels good—don't worry about trends or playing it safe—be yourself.

What's the one piece every woman should own?

I love the simplicity of a long link chain [see right]—it's the perfect day to night piece. I wear it doubled at the office and long when I go out in the evening.

Do you have any jewelry no-nos?

I don't have any no-nos, per se, but choosing pieces that flatter your body type can definitely accentuate the positive and even draw attention away from the not-so-positive.

Do you think you'd ever branch out into other categories outside of jewelry?

Definitely. I am currently working on a few projects—so stay tuned!