Jane Winchester’s gypsy coin inspired jewelry evokes the wealth of life’s special moments
After 11 years as a Senior Vice President and Fashion director of Lily Pulitzer and with many other creative stints in marketing and design under her proverbial belt, Jane Winchester launched a sterling silver, brass and 10K gold jewelry collection bearing her name. It was time for Jane to change her trajectory and she chose a path that would fulfill all of her own dreams—to unite women, create memories, link clients to their passions and their special occasions. He collection consists of sizable and reversible pendants that make a statement about the woman who wears them and “for each customer this can prove to be very different ,” explains Jane. An optimist with a heart of gold (no pun intended) Jane set out to create an affordable line that would mix and sit well with designer’s pieces as well as vintage medallions. Her symbols are easy to identify yet they are rendered with a distinctive aesthetic, textural detail and subtle nuances that make them instantly recognizable as Jane Winchester pieces.
Here Bejeweled talks to Jane about her early love for jewelry and how that transformed into her most recent career and business.
When did you first begin wearing jewelry?
“There was vibe in my family that jewelry should be ‘appropriate’. Tiffany was the jewelry store of choice. From 11 years old until my twenties. I remember there would be a ‘little blue box’ for my birthday and Christmas. Tiffany has a special way of tying their bows and I learned how to do it, so I could sneak a peek.
I received my first strand of pearls, and of course the base for my charm bracelet. Additionally, my Dad traveled a lot and began bringing home jewelry from China. Then whenever the family took a trip, I would get a charm to commemorate the places we went. A few examples include a carriage from London (to commemorate the wedding of Princess Diana and Charles!), a special evil eye from when we spent a summer in Greece. My initial jewelry collection was traditional. But my Grandmother had style and she wore giant cocktail rings and elaborate necklaces and I began to long for that kind of statement jewelry , but at the time, I was too young to pull it off except for playing dress up. But I thought one day…”
What was your favorite piece of jewelry gifted to you as a young girl?
“The pieces I love most is a 14K gold Tiffany & Co wishbone brooch (with a small pearl) I received when I turned 13. I mean…what 13 year old wears brooch? But it’s a special good luck charm that started a love of jewelry with meaning and good intention and it was from my grandmother.”
What was your career before you became a jewelry designer?
“I have had many different jobs and careers. My first job was in a book store and I read everything I could get my hand on. I was fired from Ben and Jerry’s for giving away too much ice cream. I adored interning at Christie’s and reviewing photographs submitted of items people wanted to auction. And then I found fashion. My first positions were in production and learned how to work hands on with factories. Then I did a stint in marketing at Calvin Klein Cosmetics and Barneys NY. After that, I started my own company—a handbag line that was sold at Bergdorf’s, Buzz by Jane Fox sold in over 100 retailers and the brand caught the eye of the president of Lilly Pulitzer who convinced me to move to Philadelphia and launch an accessory collection . I eventually became Fashion Director and SVP of the brand.”
That’s definitely an interesting career path; what led you to strike out on your own and in jewelry?
After my divorce from my first husband and after I met the love of my life in my second husband, I felt a need to start fresh and pursue a different dream. While attending the Women’s March on Washington with my daughters and my step-daughters, I felt a sense of empowerment, strength and sisterhood and I knew I wanted to build a company from the ground up like I did with my handbag line. All the meaning, emotion and significance during this time pointed to me launching a line that would speak to all that is relevant to women and their lives, pursuits and happiness. Jane Winchester jewelry launched in December 2017. The core collection is eight designs symbolizing and abundance of positivity in the areas of strength, hope, love and luck.”
Tell us about your inspiration for the symbols?
“ My collection is influenced by the gypsy coin jewelry of the early 1900’s. Gypsies created jewelry from their money and it was meant for more than adornment. It was a decorative method of transporting their wealth. I realized that my own wealth is based on life experiences rather than my finances which led me to creation a collection that celebrates life, achievements, goals, dreams and what you want to bring into your life. I also feel like I am a gypsy of sorts. I’ve moved around a lot during my childhood and adulthood, I’ve changed my career path and my personal path, but I am grounded in those choices and I am filled with happiness and the ability to now stay put.
What are your favorite motifs and how do they work into the collection?
“I can’t get enough hearts. I believe in love and opening up yourself again to new beginnings, romantic love, love of family, friends and children. I am also an optimist and anything to do with luck never gets old for me: horseshoes, numbers, wishbones and stars. But I also love snakes and scarabs and their meanings, mostly which have to do with eternal love and protection. At this point my collection is created in sterling silver, gold plated brass and 10K gold. The motif is on the front with the meaning spelled out on the back with a star above the word, which is part of our logo. But the wonderful aspect about these pendants is that you can wear them on either side.
-The Forever Pendant which has two keys crossing and a compass underneath sends the message that ‘you will forever have the keys to each other’s hearts and find your way back home.’ A butterfly motif pendant which represents freedom and transformation says Free on the back. A quatrefoil motif with arrows point towards a heart says Love on the back. A four leaf clover inside a horseshoe says Lucky on the back, while a dove with olive branches circling around it, says Peace. Our anchor pendant says strength because you need strength to have hope which is the message anchors have always been associated. And our protection pendant is represented by a snake which has many meanings throughout history.”
Can you tell us what makes you collection distinctive from other designer lines?
“Jane Winchester is not for everyone and that’s ok. For those who are drawn to it, the attraction is instant. We have a very sincere connection with our consumer. We embrace meaning in jewelry and our designs have a distinct point of view – optimistic and genuine. We focus on quality and our pieces are substantial. Our jewelry is affordable, and we don’t try to be exclusive, rather we are inclusive. We want to see our jewelry mixed with other brands, old and new. We love the mix of costume and fine jewelry – we want our customer to make it her own. Wearing one brand is boring. “
What do you like best about designing?
“I love the entire process. One of the things I hear most about our line is that when a client is wearing our pedants, someone will stop them in the street to ask them about it. I think it’s something about the size – it catches the eye. This is why we have some many returning customers – they love to wear it because they get such positive feedback and they also want to gift something that’s meaning and significant to a special friend.”
What do you like best about jewelry?
“Jewelry is such a fabulous form of self-expression. It’s a conversation piece. It’s a moment in time that you marked with something special and looking at it always reminds you of the graduation, the love, the baby, the person who gave it to you or the power of the moment you bought it for yourself. It’s got a spirit. Rings can vividly help you remember your grandmother’s hands. It can evoke the feeling of the surprise of opening a gift from a boyfriend who then became your husband. Jewelry has is all about your connections to people and important memories.”
Who is your customer?
“A woman who is an optimist like me. She is down-to-earth, has style and are giving and openhearted. She believes in her success and the success of others. When she buys one of our designs for herself or a friend it’s the ‘moment’ she is marking that matters. She’s not very frivolous; she is smart and has intent. So what else does she wear, how old is she, where does she live? I don’t know or care. it’s her heart and mind that matter to me. “
How do you see your collection evolving?
“I have been dreaming and designing like mad and we had a lot of collections developing. First, more hearts everywhere. It started with a new heart coin pendant that is launching in November. But I couldn’t stop at one so decided to design a full collection of different sizes and shapes and styles. This way my customers can find exactly the right heart for themselves. Those will launch together for Valentine’s Day (my favorite holiday!). We have a zodiac collection in the works, which I am very excited about. I spent a lot of time drawing each sign and thinking about the traits of the zodiac for each birthday. The pendants are large flat discs with the symbols engraved. I’ve also got a butterfly thing going on – working with a lapidary to cut some baby butterflies for short, precious pendant necklaces. The list goes on… I don’t think I will every run out of ideas.”