November 22, 2021—I have been following Deirdre Featherstone and collecting her work for years. I have loved watching her style gently evolve, become more refined, philosophical and nuanced. So, I was especially intrigued when she told me about her new collection, launching at Bergdorf Goodman on November 18, the day they unveiled their famous holiday windows.
“It’s my largest coordinated crescendo of creation to date. Immersed in worldwide colors, sights, visual imprints and even heady scent triggered memories, this collection forces you to travel directly to a place in your mind or your heart or your soul, or all of them, that can only be described as unadulterated visual joy with a healthy dose of humor,” Deirdre explained.
And then she surprised me by giving me five pages of her own writing about each of the new pieces. Over 2,500 beautiful, poetic words without one accompanying drawing or photo. Not a single visual clue.
The jewels beautifully illustrated here were still on Deirdre’s bench right up to the final days before they landed in Bergdorf Goodman. So, I was imagining the collection without a visual clue…basing everything on Deirdre’s words. They lit up my imagination and gave me so much insight to Deirdre’s process.
As a novelist my job is to find the right words to tell my stories—the exact adjective, verb, or noun to create a fictive dream for my reader. So, it was quite unusual to have the tables turned on me and be given Deirdre’s stories before seeing her creations.
The designer’s words on the Watercolor Earrings:
Every single jeweler has a set of personal rules for their particular brand of aesthetic…never meant to be broken from their perspective. And then some stone walks in to the collection and turns the whole doctrine upside down.
Rectangles, “Why would any person making jewelry use a rectangle near the face? That would be ridiculous, that shape goes with nothing!” Says me when looking at stones…and then this happens!
The excuse is two rectangles break the former rule, and a pair of exactly matching giant opals that look like a night sky in one direction or a view over the water in another direction decimates the entire plan.
Knowing that I couldn’t see the pieces for a week, I devoured the descriptions reading them each several times, trying to picture these creations Deirdre described so poetically.
Deirdre’s words on the Four-One-Four Rivière:
Rhythm is everything. Music, speech, poetry, even the sound of nature has specific repetitions that are found to be naturally reassuring. Something about the gentle flow of stone sizes makes this necklace truly pleasing.
I am a firm believer in “nightstand jewelry”…the favorites that are either being worn, or on the nightstand as the last item you took off before you slipped into crinkled sheets and downy pillows. It is my hope that this is the item that is as easily reached for as a favorite lipstick.
For me, this has been like a reverse creative writing assignment a professor might have given to an MFA graduate student. Reading about each piece, I sensed this collection might in fact be Featherstone’s master thesis. She has spent the last two years reaching deeper into her soul to find her motivation, honing her palate and then pushing and refining to reach the next level of her art.
Deirdre’s words on The Fan Earrings:
This pair of earrings has been evolving for over 15 years. The challenge was committing to the perfect opal for the center of the story. It is exceptionally difficult to find great pairs of opals. I take pride in my standards for stone pairs. Nature is not that amused with my requirements!
Over the years I would find a color that I thought would be perfect in this story and it would sit in the stone selection I had arranged and percolate…the only way to really describe the process. The opals changed several times, the gemstones chosen ebbed and flowed with color saturation until I had what I considered excellence.
One of Dierdre’s descriptions spoke to me in a very different way, picturing not just the jewelry but her involvement on the bench. In addition to being an amazing designer, she is also a master jeweler.
Deirdre’s words on the Hermitage Earrings:
I called this collection Hermitage as an ode to my bench mate Sergey. We have been creating together for close to 16 years. He is both a geologist and an amazing artist. Originally from Uzbekistan…he loves carving wax, the process which formed these delicate flowers. I love the fact that we do our carving here in New York City and amplify that by featuring the work of generational carvers from all over the world. It just goes to prove that beauty is a universal language and we have far more in common with each other than not.
Finally, it was time to see the new collection at Bergdorf’s.
I’d imagined the intense colors—I’ve often described Featherstone as a jeweler who paints with colored stones.
I’d imagined the opulence—nothing Featherstone has created—nothing about her—is quiet or done in half measures.
I’d imagined each piece would demand attention and speak to what makes a jewelry lovers heart beat faster.
Most of all I had imagined each piece would be like a reflecting pool allowing the wearer to get lost in its depths, discover its secrets and revel in the love it was imbued with.
Yet, viewing the collection, trying it on, lusting after the pieces, I realized that my imagination had failed to capture the stunning power of the jewels.
Dierdre Featherstone not only invites the wearer to get lost in the intensity of her creation, she insists on it. She doesn’t intend for you to put on any one of these pieces and forget about it. She wants you to luxuriate in the design and delight in the stones as they wink at you when you look down at your hand or pass a mirror and see a flash of dazzle at your neck or your ears. She wants you to smile and feel joy and more than mere words can convey, she’s truly succeeded.
Editorial Note: These Featherstone jewels will be at Bergdorf Goodman fine jewelry department through December. In 2022 enquires about the one-of-a-kind pieces seen here should be directed to Featherstone.
M.J. Rose is a New York Times bestselling author; her most recent novel, The Last Tiara (February 2, 2021) has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as: “Engrossing… A wonderfully twisty plot that keeps the reader wanting to know more… [a] winning story.”
*This post was produced in partnership with our friends at Featherstone.