If you’ve ever watched a red carpet event, chances are you’ve seen the work of genius jeweler Martin Katz. A favorite of celebrities and the jet set, Katz is the man to see when you need statement-making fine jewelry. A lifelong fan of the man behind the gems, I recently had a chance to chat with the world famous jewelry designer. Here’s what he had to say:
FSB: How did you get your start in jewelry? Had you always known you wanted to become a jeweler?
Martin Katz: It goes back a little further, though. I had an inkling of a fascination with diamonds when I was 10 years old while visiting an aunt that worked in a jewelry store in Chicago. She showed me a 3 carat diamond and I was mesmerized by it, but I couldn’t quite grasp what “three carats” meant!
Years later, I started selling Puca shells and liquid silver jewelry while at Indiana University. After graduation, I drove to California and managed to secure a position at a very important jewelry firm in Beverly Hills, CA. I worked as an assistant to one of the senior sales associates and spent a lot of time learning the vintage jewelry and design business.
FSB: What’s one of your favorite memories of starting out?
Martin Katz: I was asked by the owner of the jewelry firm to go the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and make an appointment with the owner to show him diamond-studded riding spurs. Apparently he was very big into horses!
FSB: How do you design your collections? What inspires you?
Martin Katz: I’m inspired by vintage jewelry from the 20’s 30’s, and 40’s. I love to design contemporary looks that have “old souls.”
FSB: You’re known as a red carpet favorite. What are some of your favorite red carpet moments?
Martin Katz: In the early 90’s, I walked the red carpet with Sharon Stone who was touting me to the media as her personal jeweler. In those days, the press didn’t care too much but it was fun anyway.
FSB: What tips can you give a woman looking to purchase fine jewelry for herself?
Martin Katz: Buy the pieces that speak the most to your style, then buy clothing for those pieces so you can enjoy your purchases and use them a lot.
FSB: What are the key pieces of jewelry every woman should own?
Martin Katz: White diamond stud earrings, a drop earring for cocktail and evening and, of course, a great right hand ring.
FSB: Name some of your favorite pieces you’ve ever created.
Martin Katz: Pins! I love to make artistically-dimensional pins that are full of color. Pins don’t have the size and space restraints that rings or earrings do and so I have a lot of fun creating them.
FSB: What are five things that people don’t know about you?
Martin Katz: I am a private pilot. I love Napa Valley red wines. I can’t draw, so I design through very primitive sketches. I love and collect cars. I’m a contemporary art collector.
FSB: Who are some of your favorite clients?
Martin Katz: It’s always rewarding to make a piece for Barbra Streisand and have her say, “I am very impressed and I don’t say that often!”
FSB: Coco Chanel once advised taking one accessory off before leaving the house. Do you have any tips for wearing jewelry of that nature?
Martin Katz: My advice is build a cohesive jewelry collection. Don’t buy arbitrarily or you could end up with nothing but a collection of “polka dots” that don’t work well together.