Upper East Sider Stephanie Gottlieb has found her niche helping others bring a little sparkle to their lives, or a lot. Originally from New York City, she launched her online business, Stephanie Gottlieb Fine Jewelry, in 2013, a few years after graduating from the University of Michigan. Gottlieb designs custom jewelry pieces for clients in addition to offering a curated selection from other jewelers. What initially began as an engagement ring and bridal service has grown to include fashion pieces for everyday wear, with prices ranging from $60 for earrings to $25,000 for a diamond chain necklace, And with 111,000 followers on her Instagram page (@stephaniegottlieb), the list of clients wanting Gottlieb’s eye for design has gone international.
Did you always plan on a career in the jewelry industry?
Not at all! I wanted to be in the publishing world initially. All of my internships had been for magazines previously. When I graduated I just didn’t find a job right away so I took an internship at a diamond company and assumed I would just be there for a few months while I figured out my real job situation. But I ended up loving it and staying for about five years. I managed the jewelry department so I oversaw production and sales and I also took care of marketing and promotion of the line as well.
What made you decide to start your own company?
I just reached a threshold. It was a small company and there really wasn’t much room for growth. I just felt like I had bigger ideas that I wasn’t allowed to see through because it wasn’t my company. It was time to do something on my own and get to do exactly what I wanted.
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
A lot of stuff I design for myself first, and people start asking if they can buy it so I add it to the line. So it’s generally things that I personally want to own and wear.s
What’s the process for making a piece of jewelry?
My process starts by conceptualizing the design. It usually involves some cutting and pasting in Microsoft Word because I am completely unskilled when it comes to any design programs or hand sketching. I then work with my jeweler to communicate my idea, discuss what diamond sizes I want to use and we work together to come up with the end result. Most of my fashion designs are made overseas at my factory in Thailand, but all of my bridal designs are made in New York City on 47th Street.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve created?
I made a choker with a bow that dangles and it’s just something I’d been dreaming about forever. I’ve always been a super girly hearts-and-bows kind of person and when it finally came through it was really exciting to have that piece.
What’s the most extravagant piece that you’ve ever sold?
I did recently make a really beautiful choker for someone using four one-carat stones and diamonds all the way around. It was a remake of an old Tiffany piece and it was pretty amazing.
Are you hoping to open a physical store or showroom one day?
Maybe one day. I think it will always be a second floor operation. I wouldn’t want like a true retail space, but I think that will be much further down the line. At this point I’m happy with an office.
How do you choose which pieces you’re going to post on Instagram?
I like to post things that have a story behind them so people can understand what the project is and what the thought process was behind it. I also really like [to] ask questions so that the followers can get involved and put in their two cents. It’s really about finding a balance between posting diamonds but also not isolating the people who just want to shop online and buy themselves gift items or everyday pieces. Certainly there’s always the wow factor to keep in mind.
When it comes to engagement rings, is there one piece of advice you’d give to anyone in the process of buying one?
I think it’s important to find a jeweler who really understands your aesthetic because anybody can sell diamonds but every jeweler has their own feel and take on a simple design. I’ve had people send my pictures to other jewelers to make copies of my rings and they come out totally differently and then they come back to me sort of embarrassed saying, “I had this ring made, I thought my jeweler could do it and they couldn’t, can you help me now?”
Is there a story behind the design of your own engagement ring?
I was working for the diamond wholesaler when I got engaged and had no idea that I would get engaged. I mean, my boyfriend and I had been together for seven years so I knew it would come eventually, I just didn’t know it would be so soon. But I would save pictures of the engagement rings I loved on his desktop at home and every few months I would trash the old ones and put a new picture in its place. So there were probably like three rings before but that was the most recent ring that I had loved.
What made you and your husband pick the Upper East Side to live?
We moved there three years ago and felt like it was a good place to settle down and make a home. It’s a place where people are out walking strollers on the street and lots of dogs and families. It’s just like a nice quiet escape in the city.