NEW YORK — Jewelry designer Anna Sheffield, known for her bespoke fine jewelry pieces, has unveiled a new store in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood.
“Location-wise, this new space is so different,” said the designer, whose previous store was on the Lower East Side. ”We didn’t have much foot traffic at the old space, at least not the type looking for fine jewelry.”
The new stand-alone retail space at 19 Bleecker Street is larger than her previous store and nestled near many of the neighborhood’s well-known boutiques and restaurants. A remedy, she said, to any foot traffic issues.
“I always knew we’d be a destination when designing engagement rings, but as I’ve grown the brand, it became about finding a location that speaks to more than just selling ceremonial pieces,” Sheffield said.
The shop was designed in collaboration with architects Brittney Hart and Justin Capuco, the duo behind the firm Husband Wife. Much like Sheffield’s jewelry collections, the space marries the antique with the modern by preserving some original elements juxtaposed with clean contemporary forms — walls have soft curves and round edges. The space is finished with custom-made jewelry cases and furniture.
Sheffield’s brand takes classic shapes and fuses them with her irreverent and mystical sensibility, often using unexpected stones and metals to create bespoke pieces. While she works with expected materials like white diamond and yellow gold, it’s pieces created with lesser known stones — think gray and Champagne diamonds — that really showcase her brand DNA.
It was her background in sculpture that inspired her first jewelry range, Bing Bang, a costume and diffusion line and a precursor to the Anna Sheffield collection. A collaboration between Sheffield and Marc Jacobs in 2006, when he encouraged her to work with diamonds, was the seed that ultimately led her to create her fine collection.
“It wasn’t like I did market research for the Anna Sheffield brand,” she said of what eventually became her fine jewelry brand. “It was literally people asking for things based on what they knew of me. It really started from there and snowballed.” She opened her first store in New York in 2013 and still designs both brands.
Sheffield has a second location in Los Angles, and maintains a tight wholesale distribution, preferring to focus on medium-size markets like Seattle and Boston.
“I’ve done department stores before but it’s a harder sale, fine jewelry,” she commented.
Sheffield was an early adapter to e-commerce, launching it in 2009. Today 20 percent of her sales come directly from her site, 10 percent from wholesale and the majority from her two brick-and-mortar stores. She focuses on communication and marketing that is primarily digital and tied to her web site and social media channels.
“Instagram Stories and IGTV have really been amazing ways to communicate. It has shown to be a way to not only talk about my pieces, but also a way to help educate the customer on things like stones, shapes and even how to wear the pieces.
“Whether that converts to immediate sales is not as important to me as it is that customers now feel comfortable and are building a dialogue with the brand,” she commented. “Honestly, social media has been a game changer.”
True to her roots of growing up in New Mexico — she lived in the Navajo Nation as a child — leaving a “green” footprint is a sentiment she takes personally.
“Jewelry is hard, it’s such a dirty industry,” she lamented, when musing on sustainability in the industry. But she combats that by solely using recycled metals. “There is so much gold already in the world, there is no need to mine more. That is a bare minimum for me.”
For her diamonds and stones that are mined, she thinks small. “The more you remove people from the supply chain and work with people you know care, the more transparent it is.”
Adding yet another layer, Sheffield also works with Silicon Valley start-up Diamond Foundry, a major player in the much buzzed about lab-grown diamond category. “They really do it in a responsible and green way, as opposed to some other players in the market,” she said.
Recently she has been focusing on her Future Heritage Collection, a mix of original designs and reprised vintage jewelry pieces that gives 20 percent of sales to The Future Heritage Fund, an organization created in partnership with the New Mexico Community Foundation to help a range of cultural, environmental and educational nonprofit organizations in her home state.
The newly opened store focuses on her namesake brand, including the Heritage collections, but Sheffield plans to eventually fold in the Bing Bang brand with some capsule collections as well.
“Design-wise it all speaks to each other,” she said with a laugh. “I mean, it all does come from my brain.”