By Lori Simmons Zelenko
Enchanted by the glitter and glamour of gems since childhood Catherine Marion left a successful career to follow a dazzling path. Heading back to school, she went to the Fashion Institute of Technology and earned a degree in Jewelry Design in 2007. Early on Marion worked with renowned designer Sharyn Wolf, finding inspiration in Wolf’s work reflecting diverse cultures. Later, a professional association with Azul Partners known for their elegant bridal jewelry, opened doors as it brought opportunities to gain insight into the business end of the industry.
Today, JEMILY (jemily.com), named for Catherine Marion’s daughters, Jennifer, and Emily, is cherished by women who love the collection’s versatile chic and sexy looks.
Although she likes to say she is a business person first vs. being an artist, Marion acknowledges she’s always had an artistic bent despite reading The Wall Street Journal and other business periodicals before she was a teenager. She even bought her first shares of stock at the age of 12. Despite their education in science, both Catherine Marion’s parents pursued artistic “hobbies.” Her father taught himself how to do stained glass years ago; he now has stained glass windows hanging in several churches near Philadelphia. Her mother was a creative, resourceful craftswoman, always with a sketchpad in hand. So, it does appear then that family genetics passed along the creative gene.
We sat down to talk with Catherine, who is based in Manhattan, and where all JEMILY jewelry is made by hand. Pieces are delicately crafted in 18K gold and diamonds—with Rubies, Sapphires, Tanzanite, Aquamarine, Tourmalines, and other semi-precious stones adding wit and whimsy to the polished, timeless style.
Why did you want to become a jewelry designer?
Over the years, I inherited an amazing collection of stunning jewels—pieces that date back over the years even to the days when Maharajahs ruled; I have an article presented to one of these uber-glamorous royals that are just dazzling! The fascination has been with me; it seems forever. So when I had the chance, I left a law career and moved into jewelry design. I started JEMILY nearly five years ago, and I’m so proud to see it grow. We’ve earned a following of real women who love the ease of wearing the looks that seem to work well with their modern lifestyles.
When it comes to creating a new collection how do you find the catalyst that will serve as inspiration?
For me, inspiration comes from nature, architecture, and the different design elements I uncover in the world around us. New York City is rich with fantastic ideas, shapes, patterns, style references that come from the past—and the present—appearing unexpectedly, a decorative detail will just catch my eye.
How essential is nature as a theme when you are designing?
The names of the collections are chosen from life, nature does inform, as do art and architecture. Narcissus is my favorite spring flower. After a long cold, snowy winter, their cheery yellow blossoms tell me I’ve made it through another dreary and seemingly endless winter. Can you know that winter is my least favorite season?”
The name Idrissa which means immortal, speaks to the influence of Moorish architecture, the style of palaces like the Alhambra in Spain. But JEMILY does not present this classic reference; literally, it’s linear style is made modern in 18K gold and, of course, accented with rare conflict-free diamonds.
New collections take on a playful edge, reverse set earrings as we saw on the Oscars red carpet sparkle in the Harlequinade collection. Who knew jewelry could be so flirty? For Harlequinade I wanted to shake things up, do something that’s different and fun. In fact, the name comes from Commedia Dell’Arte the Italian comedy that used to entertain royals—and everyday people—back in the day, in fact, the Harlequinade pantomime is still performed in New York City Ballet’s Balanchine version.
The Demoiselle collection takes flight, a delicate transformation inspired by the tracery of dragonfly wings. Chunky Cabochons in Amethyst, Smoky Topaz or Crystal hint at the powerful allure of the heroines of Game of Thrones (Catherine Marion’s favorite entertainment). A fun but decidedly glamorous take on a cocktail ring, these dazzlers are frosted with diamonds exuding a dangerously sexy sparkle as they’re embraced by the Demoiselle setting in 18K gold.
What’s next for Jemily? What design statements have you planned for the future?
Coming soon is the Pavilion collection based on the art and architecture of the Art Deco period that has long fascinated me. Premiering in Pavilion will be a pendant glistening in gold and dazzling with an array of rare stones from the JEMILY private collection, never shared before. Set to premiere for Holiday 2017, this new couture approach represents an extraordinary departure for me—transcending accessibility as the collection enters the coveted realm of couture.
Lori Simmons Zelenko is the founder of LSZ COMMUNICATIONS. To drive sales and buzz, visit lzelenko.wixsite.com/lsz-communications or call 917-693-8602. ©2017 Lori Zelenko, All Rights Reserved. (Photo credit for portrait of Lori Zelenko: Leonardo de Vega)