Kelly Killoren Bensimon chats with Montauk resident Helen Ficalora about the appeal of men's jewelry:
Jewelry designer and Montauk native Helen Ficalora is inspired by the rhythms of the natural world. Hand- crafted and cast in gold, her work has heirloom quality and collectibility. Each necklace and medallion tells a personal story and ranges in price from $125 to $1,800. With her SoHo men’s store, which is painted purple, she has taken her signature signet rings and medallions to a masculine level. In a sea of gold and diamonds and surrounded by purple, Ficalora clues us into her new lab for men.
Do men really wear jewelry?
I wanted to speak to the same idea that I do for women: to give beautiful adornments. When I first started the women’s collection, women who didn’t wear a lot of jewelry started wearing my jewelry. Men who were purchasing jewelry for their women were asking for jewelry. I started the store as a lab with my son Lennon, and am growing the collection.
Why a lab?
I like the way you can view life, and what a lab is.
What is the most covetable item?
As with the women, they will love the personalization with the letter charm, and the bracelets and the rings as well. They like cuff links, for it’s a more natural place to go in jewelry.
Why St. Christopher medallions?
I love the cool ’60s surfer, [and St. Christopher] was the saint of travel, and a lot of surfers like to wear it. I wanted to add pieces to the collection that I also like, not just what I make.
There are some vintage pieces that are not yours, right?
I like vintage pieces. My sons Lennon and Marley have helped me curate the concept behind the line. ... When I first started the women’s line, I started buying vintage jewelry and selling it with my collection. I like the mix.
What’s your business model?
I’m using my business as my business model. I’m selling beautiful products that will last a lifetime that are heirlooms and wonderful quality. It’s important to have beautiful design and a setting that’s good for guys.
What are some of the design details?
I display jewelry in cigar boxes. The distinctive purple packaging makes men comfortable with collecting jewelry.
What are some of your favorite pieces?
I like Navajo rings, and the vintage and handcrafted rings that Lennon and I curated. Lennon is a non-jewelry- wearer, so if he thinks it’s good to wear, then it’s exciting. It’s definitely great to create and build your own cuff links. This is the thread that marries the two collections.
How do you become Helen Ficalora?
Work hard and love what you do. I love my kids, and it’s my best way to spend my day. They are an inspiration and amazing young men. We’ve had an interesting family life and are lucky to ... work and create together.