Jennifer Meyer’s Goal? ‘Jewelry You Wear All the Time’

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Nothing is fussy, loud or overly large: There are earrings and chain necklaces accented with sleek bars of gold, either plain or filled with diamonds or lapis lazuli, and little earrings in the shape of hearts or arrows. Prices for the most basic pieces start around $200, rising to several thousand for larger or more embellished ones.

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Jewelry pieces by Ms. Meyer start around $200, rising to several thousand for larger or more embellished ones. Here, initial necklaces with inlaid diamonds.

Credit
Emily Berl for The New York Times

Many items seem destined to be gifts, such as necklaces with white gold discs that are inlaid with diamond pavé initials and mismatched stud earrings with the words “love” and “you.”

Ms. Paltrow, for example, said that she always wears a stack of six of Ms. Meyer’s thin gold bands, a present from her boyfriend, on her pinkie.

“I wanted to design pieces that you wore all the time,” Ms. Meyer explained over coffee at a downtown Manhattan hotel during a recent visit. “I knew what I wanted to wear and I couldn’t find it: I wanted that delicate jewelry that you never took off, that you showered in, that you slept in.”

On this particular sunny Saturday morning, she wore nearly a dozen pieces of her own design — a couple of gold pendants, a ring accented with a small pavé diamond disc, a handful of slim bracelets and oversize hoop earrings. Although the items varied in thickness and size, there was a coherence to the style, a casual sensibility that suggested the laid-back lifestyle of Ms. Meyer’s hometown, Los Angeles.

“It’s a specific look,” said Karla Welch, a stylist who has placed Ms. Meyer’s designs on clients like Elisabeth Moss and Olivia Wilde. “You know when it’s a Jen Meyer piece. Her pieces have an identity.”

Jewelry-making was not a lifelong goal for Ms. Meyer, although as a child she did spend afternoons making rings and medallions with her paternal grandmother, Edith Meyer, who designed enamel pieces in a tiny Santa Monica apartment, its kitchen crowded with a kiln. She studied child and family psychology at Syracuse University; when she returned to Los Angeles in 1999, she went straight into the work force, although not exactly by her own choice.

“I was done with college and my dad said to me, ‘Here’s the deal: You have two weeks to find a job,’” she said. She quickly gravitated toward style-related work, first as the West Coast beauty and fitness editor of Glamour and then in the publicity departments of Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren.

“She was unflappable and she was also humble,” recalled Wanda McDaniel, who hired Ms. Meyer at Armani, where she is executive vice president, entertainment industry communications worldwide. “There’s no Hollywood artifice about her at all. She’s just a very cool, ambitious, friendly person — and she did work very hard.”

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Lapis lazuli and turquoise necklaces from her new collection.

Credit
Emily Berl for The New York Times

Rebekah McCabe was Ms. Meyer’s boss at Ralph Lauren and now is senior vice president of artistic direction, store design, events and public relations at Chanel. “She doesn’t rest on her laurels,” Ms. McCabe said. “There’s an innate sense of wanting to do well, wanting to work hard, not take anything for granted and always improving. She doesn’t call in any favors.”

Ms. Meyer began dabbling in jewelry design while working at Ralph Lauren, making pieces in her bedroom and taking Saturday morning classes at a local bead store. By then she was dating Mr. Maguire; they married in 2007 and have two children: Ruby, now 10, and Otis, 8.

When they moved in together, the money she saved on rent was earmarked to create the core of what became her collection. “I felt like, ‘This is a dream of mine — what better thing to blow your money on?’ ” she recalled. “It works or it doesn’t work — I tried.”

With a handful of pieces completed, she quickly saw signs of success: a dainty leaf pendant she showed to the stylists Nina and Clare Hallworth ended up on Jennifer Aniston in the 2006 film “The Break-Up.” A friend’s introduction to a buyer at Barneys led to the store carrying the line; it’s now also sold on several websites, including Net-a-Porter, and next summer Ms. Meyer intends to open a shop in the Los Angeles area. (The company, which is privately owned, does not disclose sales or revenue figures.)

Production is handled by artisans in downtown Los Angeles, and Ms. Meyer and her 10 business and marketing staff members are based in a bright office in West Los Angeles.

Ms. Meyer’s collection has always had many pieces that cost less than $1,000, including a selection of thin bracelets and stud earrings. She gradually has added higher-priced pieces to the mix, such as a long necklace of prong-set diamonds that retails for slightly more than $25,000 and a heart-shaped pendant encrusted with pavé diamonds at $6,000.

“It really ranges from a very opening price point to something very special, so it does speak to a very large group of people,” said Leah Kim, who oversees women’s wear, including jewelry, for Barneys. “That’s where she was so smart in being able to merchandise the line as such, so anyone can find something special for every occasion.”

Even the larger, more expensive pieces have a sensibility that’s more about low-key ease than traditional Hollywood glamour. “It’s really been important for me for all these years to stay with my aesthetic — the everyday classic piece that you’re not going to get sick of,” Ms. Meyer said. “I don’t want it to be trendy or of-the-moment. I don’t want you to look in your jewelry box in five years and be like, ‘Why did I invest in that?’ I want you to love it forever.”

Like fellow designers Irene Neuwirth and Jacquie Aiche, Ms. Meyer has remained firmly rooted in Los Angeles. “There was never a point where I was like, ‘Oh, I wish I lived in New York City,’ ” she said. “Not even a little bit. I was born and raised in L.A. I’m a L.A. girl. I love the quietness of L.A. and that you can just keep your head down and work.”



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