May Came Home blends color, craft and a whole lot of whimsy in it’s debut collection
Although she might not have planned it, Deborah Halperin’s jewelry collection is right on target with the mood of NYC fashion week in which vintage ’70s through ’90s is having another moment. But Deborah knows from vintage–she grew up shopping the best of these clothing and jewelry shops while growing up in NYC.
When she named her 2018 debut collection, Deborah Halperin, who is anything but a veteran to the jewelry business, says she was inspired by the E.E. Cummings poem, maggie, millie, molly and may which, she explains “celebrates the beauty and wonder to behold in a small object, like that of the perfect piece of jewelry.”
May Came Home combines Deborah’s love of the past with a playful attitude and a profusion of color. This combination adds a touch of whimsy to her collection that ranges from geometric to more specific floral and animal motifs. There are also tonal versions which feature a more streamlined look. Deborah invites potential customers to view heraldic motifs, shields, stained glass windows, quatrefoil, Maltese crosses and star designs from a spirited and exuberant perspective by combining sterling silver, 14K with cold enamel (epoxy resin) and brightly colored stones. Mostly all pendants are double-sided, offering two looks in one with different color combinations, Often one side being bolder and vivid and the other more subdued. There are charm earrings which are youthful and creatively paired. Her signet rings are a favorite among customers in a variety of shapes that are inspired by the past with cut out enamel or solid enamel in silver and 14K gold versions.
New York City born and bred, Deborah explains “Manhattan has been my classroom and my muse from the architecture to the museums and all that surrounded me growing up in a city so culturally diverse and filled with different sights, sound and emotions that ignite all of the senses.”
Deborah launched her career working with iconic brands as Robert Lee Morris and Tiffany and Co. and was eventually motivated to start up her own collection. Deborah Halperin Jewelry Design, which was sold at Barney’s and was featured in various magazines throughout the mid 1990’s. After a sabbatical from jewelry designs, she held graphic artist positions at Barnes and Noble and Carnegie Hall.
She struck out on her own again in jewelry with the debut of May Came Home.
Here we talk to her about her obsession with jewelry and her May Come Home collection:
When did you first begin wearing jewelry?
“I had my ears pierced in the 2nd grade. I grew up on 8th Street in Greenwich Village. It was great place to shop at that time. There was a fantastic jewelry store called Savage where my friends and I all got our ears pierced – that was my entrée in to world of jewelry, but after that, I was hooked! “
What was your first piece of jewelry and who gave it to you?
“I had various pieces given to me by my parents: a gold S-chain, a gold ring with a little sliver of blue sapphire, but the most special one was a piece my mom gave me for my 18th birthday. It was a Victorian ring with a small sapphire surrounded by seed pearls. She bought it for me it because it reminded her of Princess Diana’s engagement ring – she bought it at Manhattan Art and Antiques center, which was a great place to shop for antique and vintage jewelry throughout the 90’s. “
Can you remember other pieces you owned early on?
“I’ve had many significant pieces of jewelry over the years, some of which I still have, but many only exist in memory. When I was in high school, I had a very tight group of friends – we made a pact to meet on a certain date 20 years later in Central Park. We all bought rings to seal the deal. That was probably the first important piece of jewelry that I purchased for myself. It was a Navaho silver ring with an oval turquoise.”
What was your first career and where did you go from there?
“My first real career was as a jewelry designer. I launched my own collection under my name in my 20s, (mid 1990s) which I sold to stores and boutiques around the country, including Barney’s and Nordstrom’s.
But jewelry design seemed to find me. I was an art major in college and was working in various office jobs and found myself extremely bored, really bored, so decided to take a millenary class at FIT. However, the class was full, and saw that a jewelry class was open and decided that might be fun. Anthony Lent was my first teacher. After a time, I decided to go back to graduate school to refine my design skills and learn the computer. Then I worked for many years as a graphic design and went back to my first love, jewelry again about 10 years ago, learning the art of enameling.
What Was the first piece of jewelry you ever designed?
“ Before I ever started my line or thought that jewelry would become my career, I dabbled in it. I had seen some jewelry by the well-known Manhattan fashion jewelry guru Wendy Gell. She was known for her “wristlets,” which were these incredible assemblages of rhinestones and other items glued onto cuffs. I loved them, but they were very expensive. So, to try to make my own, I began by gluing beads and cut out photographs onto metal forms.”
How did your style and aesthetic evolve from there?
“I began to design “real” jewelry while working a day job as an assistant in an event planning company. While walking through SoHo with my mother one Saturday, I saw a help-wanted sign in the window of Art Wear – Robert Lee Morris’ SoHo gallery at the time where he showcased all the major jewelry talents of the 1980s. I took a soldering test and landed a job as a bench jeweler for Robert Lee Morris , which really kickstarted my career in jewelry. It was an incredible learning experience to be around him as well as all of the talent that were sold in his shop. The creative energy gave me the impetus to begin working on my own collection and where it was complete, I found a showroom and sales reps and my business began to take off.”
What year did you launch May Came Home and how would you describe the attitude behind it?
I” launched in 2017, seeking to create a collection that combined all of my loves–architecture of the city, a vintage feeling that a Pucci print might evoke, lots of color and a big dose of playfulness. I want women to have fun wearing their jewelry and allow it to be a conversation piece where dialogues begin”
Tell us about your inspirations?
“ I love Victorian symbols – swallows, doves, hearts and vintage travel charms. I am drawn to various shield shapes and geometric designs. Living in New York City also provides a wealth of influences. I walk all over and seeing so many layers in the city’s history and it inspires me every day. The shapes, architecture and details of buildings all have figured in to my designs. I love to imagine what life was like in the past and love to see elements of different eras all mashed up together. Additionally, art and events as diverse as vintage graphic design and vintage travel posters as well The World’s Fair all have impacted details of my work in color combinations, shapes and general ideas.”
What distinguishes your collection?
“I think the emphasis on color and shape and the fact that with the necklaces, bracelets and earrings, mostly everything is double sided and there are very different feeling to each side. It’s a juxtaposition that works. I believe women love getting more mileage out of one piece. One piece might also provide a subtler or more stand out look.”
What’s your favorite part of designing?
“I really enjoy the process of having an idea in my head and being able to translate it into 3D form.”
What do you like best about jewelry?
“It’s such an important part of self-expression and identity. I wear very basic fashion—wardrobe staples, but I always like to wear unique jewelry pieces and the mixing and matching of eras, metals, colors is so creative and really allows for personalization. I am also quite taken by the way jewelry can associated a memory – each piece in my jewelry box brings to mind a person, a place, or some aspect of my life.”
How do you see your collection evolving?
“I’d love to make my pieces even bigger and more dramatic, and use add more pieces with gemstone accents. Honestly, I have a million ideas, it’s hard to contain myself. But I think it’s important to add newness in slowly and steadily and always remain true to your design sensibility as you expand and grow.”