Jewelry by Irit Design has an incredibly interesting look to it – so it’s no surprise that the woman behind it all, Irit Ehrlich, is incredibly interesting herself! Her unique jewelry attracts high profile clientele, from Michelle Obama to Halle Barry. We got in touch with Irit to discuss her work, which you can preview on her website.
AP: How did you get started in design?
IE: I’ve always had a good eye. I used to wear all whites; kind of a vintage look. I’d find clothes at flea markets and mix different things together. I had clothes altered to make them more modern. I loved it and got compliments all the time. Then someone copied one of my ideas in Vogue and I got mad, so I made my own line! I basically faked it and learned on the job.
AP: When did you start designing jewelry?
IE: I never studied it. A girl from Berlin helps me with construction and a Turkish guy helps me. There’s just the three of us creating all this, which is all handmade. We’ve been working together for five years; they really get me.
AP: I know you previously designed clothes. Was it hard to move into jewelry design?
IE: I designed clothes for twenty years – couture, black tie, wedding dresses – all custom-made. Then I moved out to Malibu and just for fun started making stretch bracelets with semi-precious stones. I got compliments on them all the time, but then had to move on because everyone was making bracelets like that.
AP: Your jewelry has a very strong, unique look. What inspires your work?
IE: I’ve been a collector of antiques – 17th and 18th century pieces – for years. So the jewelry has an antique vibe, which comes from a love of jewelry collecting. I also use Georgian, Edwardian, and primitive pieces. So there’s an antique, primitive look. It kind of creates a rock ‘n’ roll vibe.
AP: Your website mentions that the jewelry is made of baroque Tahitian pearls, 18K gold, oxidized silver, and rose cut diamonds. How and why did you select these specific materials?
IE: Rose cut diamonds were used in old pieces, too, so I’m being true to that, to give it an old look.
AP: I read in an LA Times article that you had “three rules for designing clothes: simple shapes, basic colors and only the most exquisite fabrics.” Do these same rules apply for designing jewelry?
IE: Exactly the same. I like to keep things simple.
AP: Where do you find the antique pieces for your work?
IE: I have dealers I’ve worked with for years. One piece was made with a coin from a pirate ship, which Halle Barry bought. The coin was from a 1622 shipwreck. It was the biggest discovery. They found half a billion dollars worth of coins, rocks, pearls… The family made a museum and asked me to make jewelry out of the pieces. So I’m going to be making a whole line. They offered to take me on a dive to see the actual shipwreck, but I said, “Jewish girls don’t dive.”
That’s the most exciting thing that’s happened – in addition to celebrities and Michelle Obama wearing my stuff.
AP: Do you have a favorite type of material to work with? Or one that you like to wear the most?
IE: Tahitian pearls are my favorite. And rose cut diamonds.
AP: Are they all limited editions? How many of each edition do you typically make?
IE: They’re all handmade and lots of the time one of a kind. There definitely are not fifteen or twenty of all pieces. There may be two or three. So it’s not generic.
AP: What words of advice would you give about how to wear jewelry?
IE: Wear it to gym. Wear it every day! I always tell people if you’re going to spend this much money, you should wear it every day. Wear it all the time! With a t-shirt and jeans.
What a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude towards an unbelievably exquisite product. We ♥ Irit just as much as we ♥ her work!