Jeweler Erica Weiner On the Lure of Diamond Baubles

Blair Pfander

carousel item 1 Jeweler Erica Weiner On the Lure of Diamond BaublesLike a first kiss or crush, everyone remembers their first diamond infatuation, be it their mother’s Deco engagement ring, the perfect pair of Tiffany studs or ogling Elizabeth Taylor’s jaw-dropping collection (which fetched a whopping $156,756,576 at Christie’s last December in case you were wondering).
Jewelry designer Erica Weiner is known her making precious baubles with a romantic, old fashioned appeal. And it’s no surprise, considering her favorite diamond pieces are “dark, moody” gems from the Georgian period. Here, the designer sounds off on all that sparkles, including her grandmother’s antique diamond rings—which she was sure to bring with her when she evacuated her apartment for Hurricane Sandy.
erica photo Jeweler Erica Weiner On the Lure of Diamond Baubles
“The first diamond that I ever cared about belonged to my maternal grandmother,” Weiner shares. “When she died a few years ago, my family got together to clean out her house, and we found her engagement and wedding rings, still in their original box. Her husband died when their three daughters were young, and the family legend is that she took off her wedding rings that day and never wore them again. So sad! I inherited them both, because I am the oldest daughter in my generation. It’s a three-diamond ring in a totally classic 1940s white-gold setting. It fit me perfectly and I wore both rings every day until my husband proposed to me with another spectacular diamond ring (the second diamond that really blew my mind). The engravings inside my grandmother’s rings are so sentimental. These rings are my most important possession. When I had to evacuate my house for Hurricane Sandy, I took my dog, myself, and my grandmother’s rings. Just in case, you know?
I encourage you to do your own research on DeBeers’ brilliant diamond-marketing campaign. In the 1930s, this South African diamond-mining company came up with the concept of a diamond ring as being absolutely essential to a successful romance and marriage proposal. ‘A Diamond Is Forever’, which means nothing, really, became the most successful advertising slogan of all time. True, a diamond is ‘forever.’ But so is a ruby, or any other stone. And diamonds aren’t more rare than rubies. They’re not even that rare. There’s a mythic quality to diamonds that was invented by a corporation, essentially! It’s really fascinating. Of course, diamonds are beautiful, though. There is something special, even if it’s just perceived value. I thought I’d never want a diamond engagement ring (or an engagement at all, for that matter). But I’m not immune to the lure of diamonds. I am staring at mine right now and admiring it.”
As for a period of jewelry that really inspires Weiner, she says its the Georgian period. “Most diamonds from that period are rose-cuts or table-cuts, and are backed with silver. This makes them a little less easy to wear—you can’t get the ring wet while washing your hands, for example—but they have a special dark, moody look that add to their appeal. That, and the fact that they’re hundreds of years old. The Georgian period lasted from about 1714-1830. When I travel to London to buy jewelry, I always visit one specialist who has a ton of Georgian jewelry, and we spend hours just freaking out over it. I always come home with a few great pieces, usually diamonds mixed with garnets, my favorite combo.”