Badgley Mischka is debuting its first lab-grown diamond collection that has been created exclusively for Macy’s.
Mark Badgley and James Mischka teamed up with Unique Designs, Inc. to create the collection, which is available starting today. The design duo had done fashion jewelry before, but they had never produced fine jewelry. Convinced that lab-grown diamonds are the future of the industry, the co-creative directors and their partners were seeking a jewelry deal. Having designed wedding gowns for a while, engagement rings and wedding bands seemed like a natural progression. After meeting Unique Design’s owners Akshie and Tejas Shah visiting their headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., a deal was struck about a year ago.
For fiscal year 2021, Unique Design’s wholesale volume was $750 million, according to Akshie Shah. The company was started in 1990 and has acquired a variety of jewelry businesses such as JSN, Mercury Ring, and Niru Jewels. In addition to its 65,000-square-foot headquarters, Unique Designs has a 10,000-square-foot jewelry manufacturing facility. “We love the aesthetic of this company. They have incredible resources,” Badgley said. “Lab-grown diamonds are definitely a huge future of the industry. The fact that you can work with perfect stones at a fraction of the price of a mine diamond is amazing.”
The styles are relatively classic but each setting has a twist, whether that be the surrounding stones or the way that prongs are set on the stones, Mischka said. The faintly vintage feel can be seen in the pave work to enhance the large stones. “Too often you see these unsophisticated bridal collections and the ring looks overworked to us,” Badgley said.
While brides and brides-to-be are the focus, the collection is also meant to court other women, too. Along with engagement rings, there are classic stud earrings and pendants. A variety of studs are being offered “in every size imaginable” and that is expected to be “an important part” of the business. Badgley said. Wedding bands, body jewelry, bracelets and necklaces may be added in future seasons.
The Badgley Mischka designs will be carried exclusively at Macy’s for the first season. The 24-piece collection will be showcased in a concept shop in 75 of the retailer’s leading locations and will retail from $7,000 to $26,000. Additional styles will be created and further distribution with other retailers is planned.
Impressed with the physical, chemical and visual properties of the lab-grown products, the design duo said they did not hold back on the sizes of the stones they decided on for their signature jewelry. Badgley said, ”James and I have seen time and time again, we never see a girl who opts for a smaller stone. She loves the idea of a bigger stone.”
Badgley Mischka’s embroidery and beading has always been inspired by vintage and fine jewelry is no exception, with the pair examining countless books and photographs of jewelry from different eras to review the settings, briolettes and party rings. The fine jewelry also will be sold through the designers’ site, but not immediately. The designers declined to comment on projected volume.
“We always love working with jewelry and are inspired by it all the time with our collection and our embroidery. When we were talking to people about diamonds, it was always going to be one-carat, two-carat stones. Now we’re working with stones as big as five carats, which is really fun for us to do,” Mischka said.
The ethical component is increasingly a requirement with Badgley Mischka shoppers who are looking for “more consciously sourced diamonds than sometimes the mine diamonds can be,” he said. “A younger customer is really looking for a lot of touchstones — sustainability in clothing and ethical sourcing in everything that they want to buy.”
Reached in Palm Beach, Badgley and Mischka reopened their store there last week. They also relocated it to Worth Avenue.
“That’s what we have been concentrating on a lot, since we’ve been down here. That’s why our house is not together yet,” Mischka mused.
With traffic picking up and the snowbird season approaching, local retailers and restaurateurs are predicting an “amazing” season, Badgley said. “All of Worth Avenue is under scaffolding, because you’re not really allowed to work on buildings in town once high season starts. So everybody is polishing everything up and getting ready for their customers.”