The Jewellery Box

Striking jewels – inside Lori Hirshleifer’s jewellery box

“My jewellery is my identity, it’s a part of me.” says Lori Hirshleifer, who alongside her family, owns and operates Hirshleifers, the renowned Long Island department store that welcomes fashion enthusiasts from all over the world.

Arriving at Lori’s Long Island home, we are greeted by various family members including Lori’s two pet corgi’s who don’t leave her side throughout the shoot. Made to feel immediately at home, we are ushered upstairs to Lori’s walk-in-closet, home to the most enviable collection of personalised sneakers, handbags, clothes and figurines.

“I want people to see my jewellery. I like people to look at it” she tells us as she stacks several statement rings on to one hand. Not shy when it comes to layering, Lori describes her unique style as ‘powerful’. Here she talks to us about the history of the store, changing attitudes towards jewellery and what it means to be a family business.

Lori Hirshleifer jewellery

Hirshleifers is a fifth-generation family business. Tell me a brief history.

When my great grandfather started the business, it was a fur business based in Brooklyn. My grandmother and grandfather moved the business to Queens in Forest Hills. My grandfather wasn’t a very hard worker, so my grandmother asked my father (who was doing the Bloomingdales training program at the time) to help her with the store. They opened the second store in Manhasset in 1965 and my mother was put in charge of growing the store whilst my father and my grandmother grew the Forest Hills store. Together they changed the course of our lives.

When did you enter the business?

The only thing I ever wanted to do was join the business. I didn’t want to go to college, but my father said, ‘go to college, have four years of fun, you’ll be working hard for the rest of your life.’ So, I did and then came right to work. I learned everything from my Father. He threw me into the deep end. On my very first day at work he asked me to show a customer a selection of beaded dresses. I had no idea what I was doing but I loved it.

Lori Hirshleifer closet

How has the store changed since then?

Our business has really changed dramatically. My father believed you could only sell one thing. He only sold clothing, ready-to-wear. We now sell shoes, handbags and jewellery. It was my mother who made that change, by introducing handbags and shoes. My parents bought Chanel into the store and they are still with us, they are like family. Other than that, most of the collections we carry today were found by myself, my husband, my son and my niece. I have two older sisters that work with us as well. One is an attorney, and the other one manages the sales and operations of the store. We have 150 people that work for us.

Why did you decide to bring jewellery into the store?

It wasn’t something we had planned. My husband bought me a Loree Rodkin ring and that’s when I fell in love with jewellery. Chrome Hearts and Loree Rodkin were our first accounts. From there it was a natural progression.

Lori Hirshleifer closet

camera Shamballa Jewels Lock bracelet

How would you describe your own jewellery style?

My jewellery style is maximalist. It’s striking. It’s powerful. I mix everything together. The combinations change daily based on my mood, outfits or the event but one thing is for sure; I am always wearing a lot. I wish I had longer fingers so I could fit more rings.

How do you choose a new piece for your personal collection?

I just feel it. Not long-ago men bought jewellery for women but that’s all changing thankfully. When women buy jewellery for themselves, it is intuitive, it’s what speaks to their personal taste and style.

Are there any brands that you are championing at the moment?

HOORSENBUHS, Spinelli Kilcollin, and Foundrae are all fantastic brands. We just started carrying Carolina Bucci, I am very excited about her Jewellery as it’s very different from other things that we have. It’s hard as a brand to come up with the next big thing. Once you do, you have to stay true to who you are. These brands all do that.

What are your most treasured pieces?

I have a few pieces that don’t come off. My Kimberly McDonald Lion head is a daily reminder of strength within. I have two pieces that were made for me by Sevan Bicakci, this key and a bracelet that contains a Hebrew prayer – they are works of art. Lastly my HOORSENBUHS diamond stud that was given to me by my Husband. The diamond was his mother’s wedding stone.

camera Jeff Koons artwork

camera HOORSENBUHS pill ring

You collaborated with HOORSENBUHS to create a jewellery collection. What was the concept?

My son and I decided to launch a brand by the name of OCD27. The tag line we use is “Never Coming to a Department Store Near You” which we think sums up our vibe nicely. It’s a nod to the fact that we very much believe in specialty stores like ours. We wanted to collaborate with brands we thought aligned with our mantra, and Hoorsenbuhs was our first pick!

Experience is really important for today’s consumer. What experience do you provide at the store?

We’ve always believed in giving our clients the most personal experience we can offer. We pride ourselves on being a family owned and operated business. Our consumer really appreciates that we are in the store every day.

sevan biçakçi pendant

camera Sevan Bicakci lock prendant and Kimberly McDonald Lion Pendant

camera Lori with her two pet corgis

Lori Hirshleifer home