Living Beautifully with Jewelry Designer Rosanne Pugliese
After discovering her passion for jewelry making while working in the fashion industry, Rosanne Pugliese embarked on a new adventure—starting her own namesake collection. She became greatly influenced while designing for Calvin Klein, which is where she learned how to choose luxurious and sensual materials. Inspired by this translation of modern design, she learned how to use the juxtaposition of colorful, gorgeous textiles to create clean, sculptural forms.
Now, she takes those early lessons of contemporary, minimal fashion to her workbench. She says her best ideas come from spending hours there simply combining different metals and gems until she finds the perfect balance of lightness and fluidity that she wants all of her jewelry to convey. Hand-wrought in her Brooklyn workshop, each of Rosanne’s pieces are fabricated and finished with a dedication to authenticity. She gives such attention and gentleness to her timeless techniques and also carefully chooses each gemstone with a responsibility to sourced materials.
Rosanne’s collection is highly sophisticated, airy, and fresh. She works mainly with 22 karat recycled yellow gold, while giving attention to all of the intricate details. Though she uses classic, elegant proportions, her designs seem to maintain a sense of earthy rawness. Combining her delicate finishes with unusual gemstones such as striking green amethyst, aquamarine, and green tourmaline, her pieces collectively embody a fluidity that brings timelessness and grace to any wearer.
We chatted with Rosanne to hear more about her history, design process, and the inspiration behind her gorgeous pieces.
Join us to meet Rosanne in person and to shop her treasures during our trunk show September 17-18 at Twenty Two Home.
22H: Tell us your story! What’s your background, and how is that incorporated into your designs?
RP: I originally studied fashion design at FIT, and then I worked in the apparel industry for about 15 years. I loved working in the design world, but I found myself missing the element of being a true maker. I’ve always loved building something tangible and by hand from scratch, and I was longing for that.
As soon as I took my first soldering class, I knew I needed to change direction and give this new jewelry-making discipline my full attention. My two sons were young at the time, so I was fortunate enough to study jewelry design part time while devoting time to the family. After learning the rules and the proper way to do things, I worked like crazy to find my own voice while crafting using high-karat gold and unique gemstones.
It felt like a series of challenging baby steps to be raising a family and starting a creative business, but now my current work reflects that whole experience. I also give proper credit to our jeweler Toyo Kurokawa, as her expertise and fine hand has been so influential. We have worked together for 14 years, and she’s a large part of the success of the collection.
22H: What initially fascinated you about the world of jewelry?
RP: When I first began making jewelry in the late 1990's, there were only a few artisans around who were bridging the gap between fine (fancy) jewelry and casual (craft) work. I was excited by the challenge to dream up pieces that were studio made, elegant and sculptural. I love the combination of sophisticated and wearable. I often hear women comment that they can wear my pieces on a daily basis because they are so lightweight and effortless. I want these designs to simply become part of their style, instead of putting something away in the jewelry box to save and only wear a few times per year.
22H: What fascinates and inspires your work?
RP: I’m still fascinated and inspired by sitting at the bench and playing with shapes or forms in metal. Coming up with the right balance of lightness, movement, and simplicity in a piece is such a beautiful process. To me, it’s essential that the wearer can feel the emotional quality and fluidity that each item encompasses when being worn, because this sets my work apart from more manufactured pieces.
22H: Tell us about your showroom in NY!
RP: I opened a shop and showroom about five years ago as a showcase for my own work, as well as a gallery for local wares. I also carry pottery, photographs, and other pieces that are hand-made by Brooklyn artists. The space is a celebration of art. It’s warm and inviting. It’s there to encourage customers and friends to linger and take a break from the chaos of their days.
22H: How do you define your philosophy?
RP: To be happy and successful in my life, I have learned that it’s all about balance. Engaging and connecting with family, friends, and customers is important. But I also need to offset this with time to be introspective and silent in order to recharge myself. It’s necessary to be focused and disciplined while working, but you also need periods of time to wander, to be impulsive, to evolve, and to simply protect the creative spirit.
22H: What’s a day like in the life of a jewelry designer?
RP: I look forward to getting up in the morning and walking to the studio, which is about 10 minutes from home. I make sure to structure each day with time to do both creative and business things. I always sit at the bench and explore new ideas with gems or metal, but I also have to do the more practical parts of running a small company such as filling orders, answering emails, and social media. Once a week, I’ll go out on 47th Street to source new gems, and discover what’s new in the shops and museums.
22H: What are your favorite stones and why?
RP: They're so mystifying! I think gems have their own energy that people naturally respond to on a spiritual level. Personally, I respond to tourmalines in a very strong way—I can’t get enough of their various shades of rich greens, grays, and light rose. I always create a new tourmaline piece for every collection. I find that many woman have a strong reaction to aquamarines and beryl (in the same family). I love to use these serene, watery, soothing shades of blues and greens that feel so earth-driven. I also enjoy mixing shapes and using various colors within one piece. The hardest to come by are the larger scale gems that have been cut into interesting shapes in soft, natural tones. Once I find these, they are best shown as a single jewel set into a beautifully made frame and chain. One of my favorite pieces that I own is a large, chunky cube of yellow-green beryl, which is set uncluttered in a prong with a classic 22k gold chain. My other favorite is a simple ring, which is made of an emerald cut bar of green tourmaline and set in an east to west direction on a simple band.
22H: You use recycled 22K gold. Tell us about that choice in material.
RP: 22 karat is simply gold in its purest, most wearable form. It’s a dream to work with, because it’s so saturated and malleable. It can also be fused (as opposed to soldered) to make a piece especially fluid and lightweight. I love the idea of using tools in the fabrication of a piece that are primitive and generally the same as what could have been used in a workshop hundreds of years ago.
22H: What’s it like to be a designer in NYC? The creative scene is like none other.
RP: NYC is wonderfully creative, diverse and energized. I especially love my Brooklyn neighborhood. However, I have to go back to that balance idea again! I’m the happiest when I get to spend time in the city but balanced with time outside of NYC. I love going with my husband to this beautiful town along the coast of Maine, which is a place that’s the polar opposite to the city. It’s quiet and raw with spectacular natural beauty and minimal distractions. One can really think clearly and focus there, which is so necessary for the creative process. I’m certainly looking forward to my time in Jackson Hole for that very same reason!