Clarissa Bronfman began designing jewelry by accident. The pieces the Venezuelan-born photographer created for herself were so popular that friends were asking her to design pieces for them in droves. A favorite of the social and celebrity sets – Bronfman is too discreet to name names – her latest collection will focus more on nature and insects.
“I was a tomboy and athlete in my youth, so jewelry was not important to me,” says Bronfman. “My late mother loved jewelry and collected charms and emblems which she passed on to my sister and me. In the past few years, after some traveling and spiritual growth, I sat down and thought of ways to tangibly carry on her legacy, and do this through combining many of the things my mother had given me. Even then, I had no intention of making a business out of this idea, but more to create pieces of jewelry for myself and women in my family.”
What year did you start? Where was your first sale?
I started about 6 years ago when I was at a place of wanting to reinvent myself as an artist. I wanted to carry around a medley of charms and pieces I had collected and my mother had given me. I wanted them with me at all times, so putting together charms, beads, stones, metals into pieces I could wear seemed to be the best way to do so for me. Friends of mine began showing heightened interest in the jewelry I was wearing and wanted to know where they could buy it.
How do you build a piece? How do you find the different elements?
I gather an immense amount of inspiration from my travels. My personal vocation as a photographer comes along with a lot of curiosity. I need to walk around places to discover them for myself. I explore local neighborhoods, meet artisans, and build relationships with merchants. From here I collect the things I love and bring together these elements into my own creation.
What metals and stones do you work in?
I don’t discriminate when it comes to metals and stones. I cover almost everything on the broad spectrum of precious and non-precious metals and stones. My signature designs, Symbol Tree Necklaces, can also be worn as bracelets, and have charms and pendants that can be removed and switched. These will have just about anything on them: 14K gold, silver, gold plate, diamonds, sapphire, emerald, agate, lapis, ebony wood, enamel, ruby, you name it. The entire idea of my line is best represented by my Symbol Tree Necklaces, which are meant to celebrate tolerance – tolerance of religion, culture, race, and class.
Tell me about your latest collection. What were your inspirations?
I have been incorporating miniature charms of insects within my designs. I am cultivating the idea of how powerful insects are in their abilities to affect environments positively. Insect colonies are often run by females. I am inspired by spending time in nature.
Where do you sell?
Items I design can be found on my website, www.clarissabronfman.com, my 1st Dibs dealer profile, Bergdorf Goodman, Betsy Boutique and Serenella in Boston. I recently had a pop up with The Purist at Urban Zen in Sag Harbor and I’ve also had my pieces at Aerin in Southampton. I do a small percentage of my sales online. Jewelry is a very personal thing and I find most women want to see, feel and experience my pieces before buying.
What are your price points?
They range from $2000 all the way to $20,000. My daughters have inspired me to begin putting together a fresh line that is more affordable and hip to the likings of younger prospective clients.
How would you like to see your brand evolve in the next five years?
I’d like to expand my retail presence and continue to create versatile pieces that celebrate whoever is wearing them. I believe jewelry needn’t be a status symbol, but rather a celebration of self-expression.