Image courtesy Jennifer Zeuner
Interview

Jennifer Zeuner

09.27.13

Jennifer Zeuner is a Florida-based jewelry designer. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Zeuner is known for her signature pendants on delicate chains and her fresh, modern takes on spiritual symbols. Her sophisticated yet striking designs earned her the title of Accessories Designer of the Year at the GenArt Miami Fresh Faces Fashion Show in 2006 and quickly developed a celebrity following that now includes trendsetters from Rihanna to Sarah Jessica Parker. Zeuner’s pieces are exclusively sold at luxury retailers including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

Interview

When did you start designing jewelry? Are you professionally trained?

I’m not professionally trained! I actually started designing and making jewelry from home after a PR hiatus to raise my two oldest boys. We didn’t even have a dining room for three years! Initially, it was a creative outlet/hobby. It satisfied my need to literally “create” with my hands. Within three weeks of creating my first design, Cameron Diaz purchased a few of pieces at a trendy South Beach store. Although this gave me confidence, I didn’t envision it becoming a profitable, “real” business. I had no time to really process it. However, it quickly became a full time job as the orders started piling in. My line’s aesthetic evolved from hand-made, beaded and bohemian, to more classic and sophisticated. The metamorphosis was a huge success. Fast-forward almost nine years – our jewelry is now sold at exclusive, high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Shopbop and Intermix.

Are you still based in Florida? What influence does this have on your designs?

Yes, I live in Florida but I don’t feel that the area affects my designs significantly. Of course, our jewelry is perfect for a beach day but I also think it’s perfect under a winter coat. Our jewelry is manufactured in NYC and I pay a visit at least once a month to keep an eye on production.

You say your jewelry should tell a personal story – what does this mean?

The jewelry can speak for itself or be layered. The same piece can reflect a different mood when layered and/or worn differently. The jewelry allows women to be creative with it. Every woman tells a different story when she layers her Jennifer Zeuner jewelry.

How many pieces a day do you wear? What story does it tell?

I wear my wedding band every day and usually wear more pieces during the week. On the weekends I tend to wear less since I’m often running around with the kids. Lately I’ve been switching off between two and three necklaces. One of them is a simple, elegant choker. I’ve been a fan of chokers for years. I’m glad to see them everywhere from Celine to Claire’s. I also wear around six rings, often stacking a few on one finger. I find that the more energetic I feel the more jewelry I layer. If you catch me wearing a lot of jewelry feel free to invite me to a spinning class!

Celebrities love your line. What is it about your pieces that everyone can relate to?

I really feel that my jewelry is simple, beautiful, symbolic and isn’t distracting. They become a part of the person who is wearing them. My favorite look, favored by Zoe Saldana, is a very simple and elegant suit or dress with a delicate pendant necklace that most likely means something to the person wearing it. It takes a lot of confidence to wear simple jewelry paired with “black tie” attire. Beyoncé wore our mini wishbone bracelet on stage during her last tour, Mrs. Carter. Needless to say she wore it for herself, not for the audience to see.

How did the evil eye become such an integral part of your pieces/brand?

My four grandparents are Turkish and I’ve been wearing eyes since I was a baby. It’s spiritual and resonates with my upbringing. I love the idea behind it. It’s another eye looking out for me and warding off any evil looks or “mal de ojo.”

Layering delicate jewelry has become very trendy lately, how do you set your designs apart from other jewelry designers?

My collection fuses modern and spiritual seamlessly. It incorporates a lot of symbolic shapes in surprising ways. This is achieved while still maintaining the collection’s trademark simplicity. For instance, our Raquel eye is the most modern take on the evil eye I’ve seen. It’s a classic eye, but because of its sharp angles, it looks completely different than most eyes out there. Also, the way our jewelry lays is part of our trademark. Our crosses and wishbones often hang sideways not vertically. Our designs are made to look like fine jewelry at an affordable price. I call our jewelry “transitional,” between costume and fine.

How many collections a year do you present?

I present two main collections a year with about four to five small capsule collections. Our most recent capsule collection incorporates quartz, which is also a very spiritual element.

What can you tell us about your SS14 collection?

Our spring/summer collection incorporates a lot of simple pieces that are great complements our existing ones. It includes easy long chains and bracelets which one always needs. We are introducing beautiful new chains that speak for themselves. Also, we expanded the bar collection since it’s been such a huge hit. The new bar pieces are even more delicate and elegant. I feel that we have so many amazing pendants already. I wanted to offer more “filler” pieces that will appeal to everyone.

What is the most prized piece of jewelry in your personal collection?

I love my Rachel Double Protection necklace. It’s the reversible hand/eye necklace and it was the first simple, modern piece I made when I transitioned from beaded pieces. It set the tone for the collection’s current aesthetic and I wear it every day.

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