A watch and jewellery nirvana in New York

A spectacular loft in downtown Manhattan is a chic showcase for a glittering collection of rare pieces

From left: Michael Herman and Rob Ronen in their New York boutique Material Good
From left: Michael Herman and Rob Ronen in their New York boutique Material Good | Image: Weston Wells

Up above the chic hustle and bustle of SoHo’s Wooster Street is a sleek space with soaring ceilings and sumptuous finishes. Ebony, mohair and lacquer combine to startling effect in these elegant second-floor quarters. But despite the monumental black walnut dining table surrounded by horsehair armchairs, or the Vladimir Kagan sofa, this is not, in fact, an exquisite example of New York loft living; rather it is home to the jewellery boutique Material Good. 

The inviting salon was founded by Michael Herman and Rob Ronen, who met in their 20s while working at a New York diamond manufacturer. Ronen went on to work for the watchmaker  Audemars Piguet, while Herman started his own jewellery company, and the duo rejoined forces in 2015, choosing the downtown location quite purposefully. “We are here because the energy is so different from Fifth or Madison Avenues, where one typically shops for flawless diamonds and rare watches,” says Ronen. “Material Good is about unforced luxury. What could be better than being in someone’s home and seeing products in a natural way?” 

Rolex 6264 Daytona watch, $220,000
Rolex 6264 Daytona watch, $220,000 | Image: Weston Wells

Most visitors are, unsurprisingly, initially struck by the spectacular draped chain mobile-cum-chandelier by Californian scenographer Douglas Little, and works of art by Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky and Andy Warhol. But while some of these showstopping pieces are for sale ($250,000-$1m), along with the furniture and objets (exemptions include the extraordinary hanging daybed swathed temptingly in shearling), it is the contents of the glass display cabinets that are the store’s main draw. For, ensconced in the Calacatta Borghini marble cases, is a glittering array of contemporary and vintage jewels and timepieces. 

From the Los Angeles-based jeweller Anita Ko, for example, there are romantic diamond-encrusted designs such as the delicate diamond Leaf bracelet ($17,225) in 18ct yellow, white or rose gold; while Jemma Wynne, run by the New York design duo Jenny Klatt and Stephanie Wynne Lalin, offers an open ring set with a Colombian emerald and a pear-shaped diamond ($26,250). On the vintage front is a c1925 art deco pink sapphire and diamond ring ($175,000) by Cartier, sourced by the dealer Fred Leighton, and a c1960 diamond Bypass ring ($110,000) by Van Cleef & Arpels

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Ronen and Herman’s watch expertise, meanwhile, is displayed in an extensive – often rarefied – range from Audemars Piguet (Grande Complication, price on request) and Richard Mille (Sapphire Tourbillon, $2.2m). Added to this are limited edition collaborations by the Bamford Watch Department, including the highly coveted Mickey Mouse Rolex ($22,500), and vintage pieces ($20,000-$300,000) by Patek Phillipe and Rolex – from the Datejust II ($16,000) to the 6264 Daytona ($220,000). 

This impressive selection is complemented by stellar levels of service. “We cater to our clients in very specific, high-touch ways,” says Herman, referring to the champagne-accompanied private viewings and custom-designed silkscreened gift wrap that rounds out this most refined shopping experience.

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