Guita Mortinger found her way into the jewelry design profession after years of passionate collecting. Taking this route to launching her label gave Guita a keen sense of the jewels that can make a collector’s heart rate quicken. “The majority of my customers are women like myself,” she says. “We have our major pieces but are now buying jewelry for ourselves.”
What’s the big difference between those self-purchases and gifts? Short answer: artistry and wearability. Guita makes pieces for living in and, moreover, for standing out from the crowd: graphic silhouettes and vibrant color combinations of imaginative, unusual and oversized gems.
The rubies are carved into sugarloaf cabochons for a gob-stopping bombé cocktail ring. Blue diamonds—often the headliner in jewels—sing backup for painterly slabs of chrysocolla malachite in pendant earrings. Emeralds appear as rare trapiche slices or in ribbons running through earthy, opaque stones. These are jewels that celebrate the unique character of nature’s mineral wonders.
But that’s not to say Guita doesn’t also appreciate some old-school jewelry glamour. A native Iranian, transplanted to the United States by the Iranian Revolution, her love of jewelry can be traced back to childhood (“We all have that mother, right?”). Enamored as she was by gems, Guita’s career includes turns as a lawyer, president of a luxury menswear brand and owner of an organic cosmetics company.
Lawyering aside, her work has always revolved around the finer things. In 2007, Guita honed in on the very finest, learning jewelry model making and casting before launching her Guita M jewelry label. Today, the collection is entirely made in New York; in an average week, she spends a few hours each day conferring with her craftsmen and personally overseeing production.
Tellingly, Guita cites Wallis Simpson as her most formative jewelry influence. Sotheby’s 1987 sale of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels left a lasting impression. “It took my breath away,” she recalls. Discussing the particular allure of Simpson’s legendary cache, Guita says she was struck by the personality in every piece: “It wasn’t about a 10 carat, 20 carat diamond…It was about the style.”
It’s a philosophy that’s central to Guita’s approach: jewels aren’t just beautiful objects, they’re a reflection of the woman wearing them. That understanding grounds Guita’s exuberant designs in reality.
“My love affair with color is partly because I’m a New Yorker,” she says. “We wear black for every occasion. For me, black is a canvas for color.” What better way to punctuate the Manhattanite uniform than with celadon and lavender landscape agate earrings, suspended from carved amethyst flowers, or a strand of Persian green turquoise beads dotted with vivid red coral?
Guita is a rock hound at heart, scouring the Tucson gem show for the most uncommon specimens like fossilized peanut wood and white quartz veined with pure gold. She’s always on the hunt, sourcing some of her most singular materials while traveling. A trip to Egypt led to miniature paintings on seashells, uncovered in an antique shop, and ancient scarabs procured in Luxor. In India, she acquired a pair of ancient Hindu deities carved in a unique ruby green stone. Guita set them beneath Australian opals rimmed with diamonds for a truly one-of-a-kind pair of earrings.
Her quest for unconventional materials recently led her to Gundi Dietz, a noted Austrian porcelain artist. Guita commissioned an array of miniature ceramic hands that she transformed into charms, accessorized with gemstones and gold cuffs. An artful riff on hamsa and figa motifs—good luck symbols that go back centuries in both Eastern and Western cultures—Guita’s talismans have proven to be a big hit throughout the turbulence of the past year.
Recent events have only inspired Guita to double down on her colorful ways. Now more than ever, her thinking goes, women need the mood-enhancing benefits of spirited hues. “Wearing color brings life to you. I believe color influences your soul,” she muses. Even for those color-averse New Yorkers, Guita notes that she’s been working with some exquisitely muted grey agate. “You just have to find the color for you—even grey is a color.”
*This post was produced in partnership with Guita M.