How did you get into the jewelry business?
My family is in the diamond industry and I am the youngest of three siblings. I traveled with my dad when I was 16 years old to India for work and I got really into jewelry. I think I was caught off guard by it, I was very interested in what he was doing and the creative process of it all. With the support of my dad I was lucky enough to be set up with some people in the industry. I launched my first jewelry collection when I was 16 and my first diamond collection when I was in college.
Jennifer Lopez and Mila Kunis wear your jewelry. How do you get your pieces in the hands of celebrities?
We have a PR team in New York and L.A. that work with stylists everyday. Today we had Kristen Stewart doing French Vogue and they pulled all black diamond jewelry from us. Everyday is different. We had a Redbook cover last week. Have you guys seen Sofia Vergara wearing my earrings in the Cover Girl ad? I don’t see anything else in this picture but my jewelry. I don’t look at that and think they are selling mascara. I think they are selling massive ’80s earrings. We actually sold them right before the ad campaign came out.
What was the very first piece of jewelry you created?
I still know the client who has it but it was this massive ruby necklace. It was the biggest thing, it was wild.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I would love to see a national retailer carrying Dana Rebecca Designs. I would love to have a presence in L.A. or New York. I don’t really have a dream to own my own store. I like that people can come in here and have a private experience. At the end of the day there is nothing better than being on the street and seeing someone wearing something of mine. I don’t think it will ever go away how cool that feels.
My family is here and I love the Chicago woman. She is kind of hard to nail down. I have had such an incredible start with my career here and I think the Chicago community is so accepting and that there is so much room to grow.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I am not a typical designer doing two collections a year, I come out with jewelry all throughout the year. I feel like my customers appreciate that I’m always creating. Sometimes the pieces are dictated totally by the stone and sometimes I am looking for the right stone.
How did you tell your friends you were selected to be on”Oprah’s Favorite Things”? It must have been a hard secret to keep.
I had all of my friends over and I made shooters of tomato soup with cute grilled cheese. I went overboard! I sat all of my girlfriends down and told them I had totally lied to them and that I had exciting news that I wanted to tell them first. They all started screaming. I have amazingly supportive friends and all of my pieces are named after my friends and family. Without them these earrings mean nothing.
Once the show aired were your phones ringing off the hook?
The first few hours nothing happened. Mind you, it’s a $1,900 purchase so it’s not like a macaroon where you order a box and you are done. I remember my brother saying, “Let’s go home, it will be better tomorrow,” and I was so disappointed. I had put a lot of money into this. I left and I was so upset and [my fiancé] Jonathan was like, “Let’s watch it,” and he kept rewinding to where the audience was screaming and he’s like, “Babe, this is you. They are screaming for your earrings,” but all I could think about was what went wrong? I walked over to my computer and refreshed my email and the orders started coming in. It was the best decision of my life.
Do you have a piece of jewelry you wear everyday?
I’ll change my jewelry for a special occasion but I’ll wear my evil eye every single day. I wear a Buddha everyday too. I opened up my office and put it on that day and it’s been on since October.
What is the most recent item you bought for yourself?
The Buddha was my newest addition. I haven’t taken it off. When we were wedding dress shopping I had to take it off. My mom said, “Alright, you aren’t wearing the Buddha to your wedding,” but I’ll sew it in my dress, it has to be there!
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Probably both of my grandparents. My papa Jack was in the clothing business. He was a total New Yorker. My grandma has the most amazing jewelry you’ve ever seen. When I was little she would have to take her jewelry off so I could play with it and look at it. She had these three stacked rings and unfortunately she has Alzheimer’s and we can’t find these rings that I’ve been obsessed with my entire life. I really want to make them but I don’t remember them since it’s been a really long time. I got engaged in February and one day my soon to be mother-in-law walked in wearing the stack of three rings from the same store and same sales person. Isn’t that crazy? I’ve been dating him for two and a half years and I had never seen her wear these rings. What are the odds that she wore them on the day we got engaged?
Photography by Natalie Probst
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