UPPER EAST SIDE — This isn’t your grandmother’s jewelry store, although the pieces you’ll find here are of heirloom quality.
Adornia, a line of fine jewelry with a fashion-forward edge, opened its first brick-and-mortar location on East 76th Street near Third Avenue last month, bringing a decidedly Downtown vibe to the Uptown world of high-end jewelry.
“We wanted to create a new fine jewelry shopping experience apart from the intimidation of Madison Avenue and the man in a suit telling you what to buy,” said Moran Amir, one of Adornia’s co-founders. “Here, we're playing Madonna and I’m walking around in high-top sneakers. We’re having fun and we want our customers to, as well.”
Amir, 31, launched Adornia as an online shop in August 2012 with her friend and business partner Becca Aronson.
The two, who go by Mo and Bex, met while attending Wharton Business School. Both had a background in fashion, with Amir working as a buyer for Catherine Malandrino and Diesel, and Aronson working as an accessories editor at Lucky magazine.
Neither of them wanted to follow the traditional post-MBA route of banking or consulting. They were brainstorming possible career paths when they saw a golden opportunity.
“We really felt drawn to jewelry,” Amir said. “I’d buy jewelry that would tarnish or leave green marks on me and I’d think, ‘Why am I spending hundreds of dollars on this stuff?’”
They decided to produce a line of baubles that were as stylish as costume jewelry, but made with the kind of quality materials that could stand the test of time.
Their line includes pieces such as the Adornia necklace, a delicate, 14-karat gold chain strung with a snake charm and covered in champagne diamonds; Xena earrings, large green onyx drops dangling from diamond posts; and the Blondie ring, a stackable, zigzag band offered in several different colorful gemstones.
“We really run the gamut from the very delicate to the very bold, the classic to the bohemian, the edgy to the reserved,” said Aronson, who is the main designer for the line. “That’s how women dress these days, changing styles from one day to the next, and we wanted to reflect that.”
All of the materials are ethically sourced, and most of the finished pieces are produced in New York City, they explained.
Amir and Aronson have tried to keep the line's price accessible, as well. The pieces run from $100 to $3,000, with most items coming in under the $500 mark.
“Our customers really love the idea of buying something high quality that’s made locally without having to take out a second mortgage,” Amir said.
While opening a storefront does add some business costs, the decision was based on customer demand. Amir and Aronson would often hold trunk shows or partner with salons and spas to showcase their collections when customer started asking about a store.
They chose the Upper East Side for their first location because they already had a strong customer base there. When a current customer told them that a retail space in a townhouse she owned was opening up, they jumped at the opportunity.
They opened the store shortly before Valentine’s Day and said that so far the response has been amazing.
"I love it when we’re sitting in the store and we see people walk by and do a double-take, like, 'This looks interesting,'" Aronson said. “That’s a great feeling.”
They’re hoping to continue building their fan base and business by appealing to modern women living fast-paced New York lives, they explained.
“We have this joke, #wearsdiamondstakesbus. It’s something I texted to Mo one day when I was taking the bus to her house,” Aronson said. “That pretty much sums up us and the women we’re designing for. They’re real women, with busy lives who aren’t sitting around waiting for their next black-tie invite to wear something special.”
Adornia is located at 197 E. 76th St.