5 Questions With Jewelry Designer And Curator Jill Heller
Five Questions with Jill Heller, Jewelry Designer and Curator
By Chloe Cornell
All sophisticated jewelry collectors know Jill Heller Jewelry. For 16 years, Jill Heller has offered clients a curated collection of contemporary and vintage jewelry and has helped build many of the best jewelry collections throughout the world. Jill travels the globe and selects limited-edition pieces as well as signature classics from iconic houses including Cartier, Bulgari, Marina B, Wander, Tiffany, Belperron, and David Webb. She also loves to find unique international aesthetic pieces such as silver from Morocco and hand-worked gold from India. Jill also designs her own line of jewelry that revisits classic styles with a contemporary approach to material and craftsmanship and an irreverent, playful style philosophy.
In addition to working with celebrity stylists for their clients’ red carpet looks including Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Madonna, and more, Jill’s jewelry has been featured in photo spreads of every fashion magazine from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to Elle and W Magazine. Jill also curates jewelry for sale at select prestigious boutiques including Moda Operandi and Love Shack Fancy.
Jill went to New York University where she majored in Art History and worked in the fashion industry before joining the editorial side as fashion editor at Esquire Magazine. Throughout her life she was passionate about fashion and style and her extensive travelling around the world helped hone her discerning eye for sophisticated design. Jill hosts private jewelry shows around the world and works with individual clients. You can check out her website at www.jillhellerjewelry.com to see her jewelry and previous press coverage.
Chloe: How did you get into the jewelry business?
Jill: After college I worked at Esquire Magazine as a stylist for both jewelry and fashion. When I was pregnant with my first child, I took time off and started making jewelry with beads for friends and family and discovered a new passion. At that time I also started buying signed and estate pieces for my own collection, but then started selling pieces to friends which ultimately led me to start my jewelry design and curating business.
Chloe: You have an amazing eye and are a premier curator of jewelry. When you are looking for pieces to add to your collection, do you have specific people/clients in mind? What are you looking for when you are selecting jewelry?
Jill: I definitely have clients in mind when selecting jewelry but I also buy inventory to have for my business. Ultimately, the most important thing for me when I’m selecting jewelry is that I would want to wear it myself. I only want to sell jewelry to people that I personally would love to have and wear.
Chloe: You’ve curated jewelry looks for many celebrities, fashion shoots for magazines, and helped many women build their personal jewelry collections. How do you decide what jewelry is right for each person? Do you have a favorite muse? Favorite look that you’ve helped create?
Jill: Different clients have different looks and I can choose jewelry based on their unique styles, but I believe the underlying theme that connects my jewelry selections, no matter the person, is that there is a sexy undertone which enhances the wearer’s sensual side.
Chloe: What kind of education, experience and skill set do you need to do what you do? What would you advise someone who wants to pursue a career in the jewelry world?
Jill: I think you can educate yourself on the history of jewelry, get to know different periods and fabulous designers, but a great eye is something that you are born with and can’t really be taught. It is also important to be a people person, as this is a business built on relationships with both jewelry vendors and clients. I want to be the first phone call when a great piece of jewelry becomes available! Of course it is a lot of fun to work with jewelry as I constantly get to see beautiful pieces, acquire new things and design items that I want to wear. If jewelry is your passion and you have great taste, you should definitely pursue it.
Chloe: What are your favorite jewelry brands? What would be your advice to someone who is starting a jewelry collection?
Jill: My favorite brands are Cartier, Bulgari, Marina B and David Webb, but the “right” pieces from all of them. I would advise someone to buy quality, signed pieces with provenance, look for the right signature from the right time which is something you can learn, or enlist an expert to help you. Study the auction catalogues and see what you like. That’s the first step – like what you buy. You have to want to wear whatever you buy, you should love it and it should match with your style.
I personally think one bold piece makes more of a statement than a lot of trendy jewelry – one big cocktail ring or bracelet is all you need. Less is more!