I entered Happy Bones, a small cafe in NoLiTa, and panicked. There were only three tables in the entire place, and they were all full. Soon I would be in the presence of the co-founder of Lucky Magazine (RIP), former creative director of Michael Kors, former launching creative director of eBay Fashion, author of the fashion-girl favorite “I Want To Be Her” and now the founding creative director of fine jewelry start-up Iconery. I did NOT want to look unprepared. While waiting to order my beverage a table opened up – and although this is probably bad cafe etiquette – I quickly jumped out of the line to save a seat and jumped back in. But when Andrea Linett breezed in — right on time — I realized I needn’t worry. She immediately hugged me hello, dropped her bags and jacket and went to order her coffee. I got the impression that if there hadn’t been a seat we could have just as easily gone somewhere else.
As the creative director of Iconery, Andrea is making fine jewelry feel a little more familiar. “We’re kind of here to hold our customers’ hand through buying fine jewelry,” she said. “The direction we’ve gone is not intimidating. Everyone on the site looks friendly. It’s cool, it’s not scary. We’re trying to take the scary out of it.”
While there are tons of jewelry designers Andrea loves, one in particular received next-level enthusiasm. “I want to have sex with Mara Scalise’s jewelry,” she said. “Jewelry is sexy or not sexy. Gold jewelry is more sexy, and hers is so sexy.” Yet not surprisingly, for someone who is such an expert her preferences are more complex. Take her wedding ring, for example. Made by the jewelers of Ten Thousand Things (whom she also counts as friends), her band is green gold. “I’m more of a gold person,” she said, “But I’ll throw in some silver. I have a ton of silver. I always think white gold is like — might as well buy silver — unless it’s white gold with diamonds. A friend gave me a ring with four diamonds set in yellow. I asked if I could set it in white and he got mad at me! I’m not into new rose gold so much. The rose gold that we do at Iconery is the right rose. There are some that almost look like copper, and doesn’t look good on anybody’s skin.” And then we shared a moment of agreement that rose gold is like white chocolate.
After some internal debate (i.e., will this be embarrassing?) I decided to bring up the antithesis of Iconery — Bauble Bar. After all, if you have your choice of two rings that look the same, why not buy the cheaper one?
Her answer, “If you put a fine gold ring next to an alloy they might look the same, but the alloy is going to fade. There’s a richness to real gold. You can tell.” She added, “you’re not going to have it in your jewelry box forever and ever. You’re not going to feel rich when you put it on. When I say rich I don’t mean money-rich, but like when you put on a cashmere sweater instead of a polyester sweater. It’s like wearing nice lingerie or not very nice lingerie.”
“Somebody goes on Shopbop and ends up putting a $600 pair of ankle boots in her cart,” she continued, “and doesn’t even think about it. You’re going to wear those ankle boots, they’re going to fall apart, and you’re going to want another ankle boot next year. So to me, I want our customers to feel comfortable like they feel comfortable buying a coat online. They’re buying expensive clothes on all these websites all the time. People think they don’t need it or don’t deserve it, but it’s part of your whole look.”
In one moment chatting with Andrea felt like I was hanging out with a super-knowledgeable girlfriend, then the next moment felt like I was sitting at the feet of a guru dropping knowledge like crumbs coming off a muffin. She was generous with advice and tips, and even insisted on showing me one of her favorite stores around the corner after our interview was over (I went back twice and bought a coat and a bag).
I asked Andrea about some of her early jewelry memories, wondering if it had been a lifelong obsession. Although she told me about one of her first jewelry purchases being inspired by Stephanie, a cool childhood friend, Andrea didn’t think that starting young made her an expert. Instead she said, “I didn’t become a guru until I got a job at Harper’s Bazaar as a writer. One of my first assignments was to write a piece that required all this research, and then I got really into it. I was like, ‘oh that’s what Edwardian is! That’s what Victorian is, and Georgian, etc.’ I started getting into it when I wrote that article.
I insisted that perhaps the spark had always been there. She admitted that there was a time when she saw women wearing fine jewelry and thought to herself, “‘someday I’ll have that.’”
That’s the position I’m in now (see also: my next birthday). Lucky for me, as Andrea pointed out, “That’s the thing with Iconery. Buy your one thing. Start slowly.” Let the spark smolder and give it time to become a flame.
**Today is day 7 of the “7 Days of Shine”. Use code “shine40” for 40% off this Wren opal ring. End at 3am EST.