NEW YORK — Nazgol Jahan, the new worldwide head of jewelry at the Phillips de Pury auction house, is responsible for millions of dollars worth of gems. And yet, as she’s arranging a display in anticipation of her first sale, she casually throws on a tourmaline, amethyst and peridot multistrand necklace. There isn’t space for it in the case, she reasons, and it just happens to match her fuchsia Temperley blouse.
The 28-year-old’s treatment of the piece does not reflect a lack of respect or responsibility, but rather an unceremonious attitude toward fine jewelry that other women her age have begun to adopt. “It was effortless for it to work into my outfit,” she says. “It’s the way people in our generation wear jewelry right now.”
And Jahan aims to capitalize on that. For her first sale, which will be held on Saturday as part of Saturday@Phillips — a new auction series the house has started with affordable pieces for a younger audience — she’s culled a collection of necklaces, rings and earrings valued from $600 to $8,500. Key pieces are a pair of diamond concentric hoop earrings ($3,000 to $4,000) and a marquise-cut blue topaz and diamond ring ($2,200 to $3,200).
“We’re almost trendsetting with our jewelry,” Jahan says. “When you go into Sotheby’s and Christie’s, the jewelry is old jewelry. It’s not really for people who are concerned with what’s going on in fashion right now. But these pieces will go with what people are buying in the stores right now and what’s on the runways.”
Jahan began studying gemstones as a little girl by accompanying her father, a jewelry manufacturer then based in Alpine, N.J., to auctions and trade shows around the world. She studied art history at Columbia University and then completed her law degree at Brooklyn Law School. “I’ve always known I wanted to be in the jewelry business, but I was also very independent and entrepreneurial,” she says, explaining her divergence into law.
After passing the bar exam, Jahan designed jewelry with her family’s firm before Simon de Pury approached her with the idea of reorganizing the New York jewelry department at Phillips (operations had been centered in London for the last three years). She immediately knew the job was tailor-made for her. “I felt like all my experience just sort of crystallized in this one position,” explains Jahan.
This story first appeared in the April 6, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Next month, she will oversee Phillips’ Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva. The collection will include estate pieces valued significantly higher than those included in Saturday’s affair. “You are tailoring that sale to the entire industry of dealers, buyers and collectors,” Jahan says, smiling. “That’s the dream for me. I don’t just appreciate one type of jewelry. I look at all of it and I just love it.”