Drawing upon a diverse mélange of artistic references, Brooklyn jeweller James Colarusso’s style veers from sensual Brancusi curves to the more angular geometric shapes seen in the work of artists such as Donald Judd. He also plays with history and has a certain gothic wit; his pieces often transform traditional elements – think cameos, memento-mori jewellery and sentimental heirlooms and tokens – into thoroughly modern creations. A signet ring with a skull insignia, for example.
If you’re looking to copy a specific piece of your own, or want a big diamond in a classic setting, then Colarusso is not your man. He views stones for their own sake as “garish”. If, however, you are interested in a collaborative bespoke creative process, the outcome of which is an edgily unique pair of earrings, a statement-making necklace or a one-off ring, you’re in the right place.
Colarusso works with each client to explore their personal take on his ideas and designs, incorporating a selection of stones sourced from wide-ranging locales: the American southwest as far as Thailand. Bold rings are a particular Colarusso strength – The Claw ($4,500) features golden “talons” holding exquisite stones in perfect place (first picture with amethyst), while precious diamonds are incorporated in subtle, unexpected ways. Coloured gems, such as the spectacular, sea-green Peruvian opals, are set in 14-carat gold (second picture, $3,500) designed to amplify their intense power.
Necklaces can be created to order, inspired by specific stones or playing with existing designs – Colarusso is a fan of charms and his directional-meets-historical puzzle-ball pendants (from $615) work well for day wear. More formal pieces, such as a heart-shaped citrine (third picture) or a customised smoky quartz pendant ($3,800), are perfect for special occasions. When it comes to earrings, he loves to design for a specific woman’s face so that the style and length perfectly suit the shape.
Colarusso’s clientele tend to be strong women in creative fields such as publishing, film and fashion. Most buy pieces for themselves and tend to collect his work, and they don’t mind the eight-week wait. In fact, if anything, the delay makes the final delivery all the more delightful.