When L.A.’s social set gathered for the annual HEART charity brunch last month, it wasn’t dainty initial charms with their kids’ names that bold-faced guests Marlien Rentmeester, Kelly Styne and Eve Gerber were wearing. It was diamond-edged shell pendants and Seventies-inspired, architectural-looking bar cuffs by Jenna Blake, the statement jewelry house that DM built.
Over the past five years, designer Jenna Grosfeld’s fine-jewelry collection has become a go-to for birthday, Mother’s Day and just-for-me gifts, particularly on Los Angeles’ Westside, selling through word-of-mouth and Instagram. Today, she’s launching her first e-commerce site, JennaBlake.com, with an eye toward growth.
“Jewelry is my passion. I’d get things, make things, put them out there,” says the lifelong collector, who mixes colors, stones and historical eras in her pieces, often Art Deco with the Seventies. “But I’m really shy, I’m a terrible salesperson and I hate self-promotion. Instagram was the perfect platform for me. I started posting and little by little, local people asked me to make more, and I agreed. Now, I’m all in.”
Her made-in-L.A. collection, priced anywhere between $500 and $20,000, may be rooted in the past, but it has a casual modern spirit that makes it easy to layer on and wear with jeans and a T-shirt. “I’m inspired by old stuff. I can’t point out anything new that I like. There are so many beautiful artists I pull from, Rene Boivin, Boucheron, David Webb, Ruser,” she says, proffering trays of yellow gold wire collars with vintage turquoise bird brooches mounted on them.
An L.A. native, Grosfeld lives in Bel Air, in a 1938 house designed by Gerard Colcord that previously belonged to Nicolas Cage and Dean Martin before that. Part of the appeal for some customers is being able to stop by and browse the trays of stunners in her upstairs salon, which is designed in a baroque style, where they can sit for hours on her pink Billy Haines sofa. “It’s a throwback to old Hollywood glam, reminiscent of the time when Dean Martin lived here and regularly entertained the Rat Pat,” the designer says.
A shell motif carved into the fireplace echoes shell pendants that can be combined on chunky gold chains, along with crescents, enamel horns and other charms. Above the fireplace is a nude photograph of a modern muse. “I love the juxtaposition of seeing my Seventies’ bangles perched atop of the peach marble neoclassical fireplace, and below my modern Mona Kuhn nude photograph,” she says.
The collection is about 20 percent vintage and 80 percent new, made by local craftsmen in Beverly Hills, Culver City and downtown. There are dangling “cloud” earrings with floating shapes of lapis, malachite and mother-of-pearl, as well as individual, Victorian crescent-inspired diamond earrings in different sizes “that let people create their own look without being cookie-cutter.”
Chunky gold stacking rings set with raw-cut baguette diamonds are as smooth as worry stones, and Deco-era starburst dress clips get new life as earrings. “I want to teach women that fine jewelry is a long-term commitment. It should be timeless, which is why my stuff looks back. I’m not inventing anything new, I’m just highlighting things people have already made, and giving people a better appreciation of jewelry, buying and wearing it. A pair of earrings can change your whole look.”
Design runs in the family. Her husband is L.A. developer Jason Grosfeld, chairman and chief executive officer of IronGate, who specializes in luxury residential and resort properties, among them the soon-to-open, tony Costa Palmas on the East Cape of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. His grandfather operated a furniture studio called Grosfeld House and the couple have several antique pieces represented throughout their house, including a Lucite Forties floor lamp and a pair of scroll-back chairs.
“Many of the same lines and styles found in my grandfather-in-law’s iconic furniture design house are consistent with my own design philosophy,” she says.
Right now, Grosfeld is hoping the web site will help streamline sales. (Posting a photo of a piece on Instagram has been known to net as many as 50 DMs inquiring about it.) “If there is a way to make it feel bespoke but still have a broader reach, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.”
When asked about competition in L.A. from Jennifer Meyer, Irene Neuwirth and others in the thriving fine-jewelry design scene, she says there is room for everybody. “The market is huge for jewelry,” she says, in part because of the rise of social media. “It photographs so beautifully, like eye candy, and it’s opened up this world to people who weren’t jewelry shoppers before. Prior to social media, you’d have to go to a store to buy jewelry and see what’s out there. Now, it comes up in your feed.”