Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Blake Lively. These are just some of the names Lorraine Schwartz reels off as she points out items of exquisite jewelry kept in a row of glass vitrines.
A third-generation diamond dealer and jewelry designer, Schwartz is known for her collaborations with A-list celebrities. Her creations have stunned on red carpets, from the Oscars to the Met Gala, and have been part of notable pop culture moments — she was behind the titanium glove worn by Beyoncé in her “Single Ladies” music video.
Speaking to CNN from a suite in Hong Kong’s The Upper House hotel, where viewings have taken place over the past week to coincide with Art Basel, Schwartz said that she “took some persuasion” to participate in the sale.
“But he (Williams) explained to me that when you’re a creator, whether it’s him with music or me with jewelry, you have to share your designs with the world.”
While the jeweler won’t disclose the estimated value of “around 100” items she has made available, Schwartz said the objects range from $30,000 “to the high millions.” Around a quarter of them were previously worn by celebrities.
Beyoncé completed her Grammys outfit this year with white diamond drop earrings by Lorraine Schwartz. Credit: JC Olivera/WireImage/Getty Images
A pair of four-panel kite-shaped earrings, for example, were recently seen on Taylor Swift at February’s Grammy Awards (pictured top). Worth over $1 million and made with white gold, diamonds, purple sapphires and paraiba tourmalines — among some of the world’s most prized gemstones — the splashy earrings perfectly complemented the singer-songwriter’s shimmering blue gown.
Schwartz is also offering emerald pieces that are similar to the “game-changing” earrings worn by Angelina Jolie to the 2009 Oscars.
“I spoke to (Jolie) about having a real moment,” Schwartz said, recalling how wearing lighter-colored emeralds — and presenting them by themselves, rather than paired with diamonds — was uncommon at the time.
“We changed people’s perceptions; we made that color popular,” she explained. “Everybody started making similar looks.”
Angelina Jolie on the 2009 Oscars red carpet in emerald earrings created by Lorraine Schwartz. Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images
The American designer has steadily built her New York-based business since launching the brand in 2001. Her success, she said, is based on what she describes as “authentic relationships.”
Williams, whom she met in the early 2000s, is a case in point. The pair have collaborated on numerous occasions, and they’ve grown close through the years.
Earrings worn by Adele during her Las Vegas show also feature in the sale. Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
The Joopiter sale features several items that Williams co-designed with Schwartz, including two heart-shaped rings and a necklace.
“There’s not enough reverence or appreciation for creators and inventors,” Williams told CNN during a group Q&A session at a launch event in Hong Kong.
“It’s really crazy to me because everything in this room that isn’t organic, was created by someone’s epiphany — everything. The camera, the clothes, the phones, the footwear, the lights, the art, the creativity, the jewelery,” he said.
“These were all someone’s epiphany … or shared epiphanies, and we have got to get back to that. That is, to me, the most immediate responsibility to the human race, right now. We have to give back reverence.”
In that same spirit, Williams’ Joopiter uses archival imagery and video content to tell the stories of “rare cultural artifacts” the platform offers. Its inaugural auction, titled “Son of a Pharaoh,” featured objects from Williams’ personal collection and fetched a total of $5.25 million.
Pharrell Williams and Lorraine Schwartz at a Joopiter event held at The Upper House in Hong Kong. Credit: Courtesy Joopiter
During a talk with Schwartz, hosted by HSBC and Swire Properties, Williams said holding Joopiter’s second sale in Hong Kong, one of the world’s most affluent luxury markets, was an important move for the young auction house.
“This is where things happen. This is where some of the greatest transactions happen — in all industries,” he said. “So if we want to be front and center, this is the platform.”
Schwartz meanwhile credits Williams with helping her part with some of her gems, a process she said has been both difficult and therapeutic.
“They’re like your children because you put so much time into them,” she added.
“But there are pieces here that I was just holding onto. Pharrell has been so instrumental in explaining to me the process of sharing, of letting provenance move on.”