The Jewellery Box

The New York brand guru and collector of mid-century jewels

‘Buying jewellery is a thoughtful process’ says Miranda Levitt, a fashion branding expert based in New York, ‘it becomes a serious obsession.’ Effortlessly stylish, it’s not hard to see why a clutch of cult fashion labels rely on Miranda’s expertise for all aspects of their wholesale and branding direction.

Outside of her business, she’s a jewellery maven. Her own style is sleek and minimal, reflecting elements of the understated mid-century pieces she collects. We met her at her East Village apartment to discover her jewellery box treasure trove.

Tell me about what you do?

I have my own business consulting for fashion labels. The brands I work with have pieces that everyone wants and that buyers can’t live without. Batsheva, who make cotton high collared, ruffle sleeved dresses in floral prints. A brand called Lorod who have these zip through jeans that Bella Hadid wore. The American designer Rachel Comey. And this new Russian designer called OCCHII – he’s mixing classic American sportswear with Russian heritage – it’s beautiful.

Where did your passion for jewellery come from?

It started after my grandmother, who I really admired, passed away two summers ago. We were very close. On her death bed she handed me a sock filled with jewellery – diamonds and necklaces. And when I came home for her funeral I was handed a huge jewellery box which I inherited. I have this wonderful picture of our hands together – we have identical hands so her rings fit me perfectly.

After she passed away I went on a road trip to clear my mind, through Austria, Italy and Slovakia. While we were driving I started looking up mid-century jewellery and fell in to this whole world – art meets jewellery meets sculpture meets architecture. I discovered amazing designers like Elsa Peretti, as well as bigger brands like Georg Jensen and Tiffany. I decided to start an Instagram called @AbstractionCreation after Alexander Calder’s book – he made amazing jewellery.

And you started collecting jewellery?

I wanted to start collecting and selling original mid-century jewellery. But then I got it and wanted to keep it! Now I give it as gifts. Betty Cooke is one of my favourite designers – she’s still designing. I collect some pieces by a Danish designer, David Anderson – he makes beautiful leaves that curl up the ear – they’re very special.

I want to find people who haven’t been discovered, or pieces that looked like famous designs. In Philadelphia, where I’m from, there’s a store called Halloween, it’s like a fantasy – cases and cases of jewellery on velvet sorted by pearls/sterling/rubies/diamonds – you need a discerning eye to search through.

What are your earliest jewellery memories?

My grandfather was fascinated by jewellery, every year on my grandmother’s birthday he’d buy her jewellery, a lot of things I have were gifts from him. He was a forensic psychologist and when he got older my grandmother wanted him to slow down and retire. He took up jewellery making – he’d buy gems and sit at his desk with a loupe, experimenting!

Which are your most treasured pieces?

This ring was my grandmother’s and she wore it for 60 years – even when I’m married and have an engagement ring, or a wedding ring, I’ll still wear this every day. When I graduated I went to Tiffany’s and bought this Peretti cuff – I’ve never taken it off – it’s something that my friends know is my thing.

What’s on your wishlist?

I always think carefully about what my next purchase is going to be – I don’t buy impulsively. I have a road trip planned this summer to go and visit Betty Cook’s studio – she still works out of Maryland and sells her antique pieces. She makes very sculptural pieces in sterling and pearls or mixed metals – simple and linear. I’d love a pair of her earrings or a choker.

The attitude to jewellery here in New York feels very expressive?

I’m more about collecting than wearing jewellery – I wear the same things all the time – a clean, minimalist approach. What I have is simple and part of my style, but for a lot of women in New York, jewellery is a status symbol. On the Upper East Side it’s about jewellery, bag, shoes, fur, giant sunglasses, hair blown out, husband in Belgian loafers and a three-piece suit – it’s a whole other world of Manhattan.

Whose jewellery box would you love to have?

I love mid-century and minimalism, but Liz Taylor’s collection would be so ornate – old Bulgari and Cartier piece that looks like they were made for a princess. I’d want to study it – the enamelling, the micro pave – incredible techniques.