If you haven’t heard of Lorraine Schwartz, you must not be keeping up with the Kardashians. Or Beyonce, or Barbra Streisand, or Angelina Jolie: just some of the celebrities Schwartz considers her closest friends and clients.
Every awards season, fashion houses clamor to dress each starlet, from Hollywood royalty to the next “It” girl. But jeweler Schwartz is different. She’s the designer who’s got the hottest stars vying for her designs. Her name is mentioned on the red carpet more than any other brand or fashion house.
In 1989, Schwartz became the third generation to take over her family’s diamond business. She renamed the company Lorraine Schwartz Diamonds & Fine Jewelry and changed the business model. Now her designs are sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman in New York or by appointment in her Manhattan showroom.
With the rise in popularity of the youthful fashion so heavily featured “Sex and the City” in the 2000s, Schwartz took risks featuring color and playful designs, consciously moving away from traditional fine-jewelry. “I started to make things that I would personally like,” she said in an interview with JCK Online. “Something a little funkier.” And stars took notice.
Schwartz said she accidentally fell, literally, into the celebrity jeweler moniker in the 1990s, when supermodel Iman inquired about a large diamond. “We were so nervous,” she recalled, that she tripped on a chair and fell on Iman’s partner and future husband, David Bowie. “It was a 10-carat canary diamond, and it was a big sale for me. I ended up making her the engagement ring.”
With her ornate designs heavy on bling, the New York City-based Schwartz has herself reached quasi-celebrity status over the years. Her loyal clientele includes supermodel Heidi Klum, musician Pharrell Williams and actress Blake Lively. She even collaborated with the Queen Bey herself, Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce and husband Jay Z shout out Schwartz’s name in her song “Upgrade You” and Beyonce wears in her now infamous “Single Ladies” video.
When Angelina Jolie stepped out of the limo at the 2009 Academy Awards, the only accessory anyone was looking at were the exquisite pair of $2 million, 115 carat Colombian emerald drop earrings she paired with her basic black Elie Saab gown. Schwartz’s groundbreaking emerald earrings had celebrities lining up for months to come. Some even started wearing copycat designs.
Nowadays, Schwartz is most famous for her enormous engagement rings. She designed both of Kim Kardashian West’s rings and more recently Bar Rafaeli’s five carat engagement ring. From Taylor Swift, to Sofia Vergara, it’s hard to find a celebrity Schwartz has not decked out in jewels.
Schwartz, whose mother died from breast cancer at the age of 55, sits on the board of directors and donates to the Gabrielle’s Angels Foundation to fund cancer research in honor of her mother. With her siblings Ofira and Ilan Sandberg, Schwartz founded the Shulamit Benjamini Sandberg Medical Research Grant. Named for their mother, the $250,000 grant supports cancer research and philanthropy.
“There’s only one woman of style — my mom,” Schwartz said to JCK. “My mom was regal, impeccable. I got my taste from her. Every time I get stuck on an idea, I think of her and inspiration comes to me.”
Maia Efrem is the former research editor and assistant to the editor and was also responsible for the Forward’s annual Salary Survey. Previously she served as the editor of Blognik Beat, a blog written by students who emigrated from or have ties to the Former Soviet Union. Maia is a graduate of Hunter College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Meet Lorraine Schwartz, the Jewish Queen of Oscars Bling