Kerri Halpern is mad for quite a lot. She loves modern art — just check out her West Village home, with its Mies Van Der Rohe chairs and Peter Doig and Andy Warhol paintings — not to mention skulls (anything dark and bewitching, actually), Champagne and, especially, jewelry. Halpern celebrates them all with a new fine jewelry collection that’s dubbed — what else? — MadStone.
This story first appeared in the November 17, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I started researching words synonymous with cool and outrageous,” says Halpern, a Colorado native. “I came across mad. I thought, that’s perfect. I always talk about how mad my jewelry is. ‘Madly inspired’ is my tag.”
If it’s not already obvious, Halpern isn’t your classic, conventional sort, and her entrée into jewelry is similarly offbeat. Her CV includes a long stint in public relations at Escada in the Eighties, after which she became a stay-at-home mom for her two kids, now both in college. “I was at the empty nest point in my life,” she notes. “I wanted to get back into the fashion world entrepreneurially. I’ve always been interested in jewelry.”
Halpern’s new line features five collections, all chunky and graphic and mostly made from 18 karat yellow, white, rose gold and black gold. Wholesale prices range from $225 to $7,500; retailers include Diana Heimann Jewelry Salon in White Plains, NY, Roseark in West Hollywood and XIV Karats in Beverly Hills.
The Bubble lineup features bib necklaces and drop earrings, all made of polished quartz hand-etched with tiny polka dots. “I watched bubbles come up in a Champagne glass,” she says of the inspiration. “I wanted to re-create effervescence. I mean, life’s a party, right?” M8 revolves around the octagon, with bangles that sport a different texture or stone on each side, while Random hinges on a skewed geometric motif inspired by the faceted glass penthouse at the top of Diane von Furstenberg’s studio in the Meatpacking District — gemstones are layered, with translucent quartz piled over mother-of-pearl or loose sapphires.
Then there are the decidedly darker offerings — MadAnimals (gem-encrusted spiders, bats and beetles) and MadSkulls. It’s a glam-goth vibe that Halpern has rocked since she was a kid. “It’s just my mad, twisted mind,” she says, before reading off a laundry list of her macabre moments. Her previous apartment faced a cemetery (“beautiful,” she says). Her current place, meanwhile, is home to two Damien Hirst skull prints (including one dusted with black diamonds), skull-patterned cushions, cocktail glasses (from Ralph Lauren, no less) and velvet skull wallpaper in the guest bathroom.
“I love that Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead and, instead of making it all sad and creepy, they have a party,” Halpern remarks. “I want to embrace that on a luxury level.”