Best known for their innovative chain work and semiprecious and precious stone mixes, CFDA Award-winning duo David Nakard Armstrong and Anthony Camargo shuttered their Anthony Nak business last year. But now Armstrong, aka Nak, is returning to the scene with Nak DNA, a limited edition silver and semiprecious collection that’s quite a departure from his previous line, not to mention easier on the pocketbook.
This time around, Armstrong is using fewer precious metals in response to the skyrocketing prices of gold. “People want bolder looks, so with gold you are always in the position of worrying about how much metal you use, so the pieces have to be smaller,” he said. “But it’s a difficult thing to manage with the kind of look that I was trying to do.”
For Nak DNA, oxidized silver chains — Armstrong hates the shiny versions — work with precious stones in designs that often resemble stained glass windows. “The common thread is really this Deco hard and soft thing,” Armstrong noted. “Deco, I think, has a very feminine, historical thing and has a modern sense to it too. I like playing with those boundaries — I think that’s how you come up with things that are new.”
Currently, most of Nak DNA’s offerings is earrings and a few necklaces; Armstrong plans to add bracelets and rings soon. Prices wholesale from $300 for a pair of gray quartz, white moonstone, turquoise and sterling silver earrings to $2,700 for a statement necklace in sterling silver with semiprecious stones. Armstrong is producing the one-of-a-kind pieces from his base in Austin, Tex., where he says he will make additional designs upon request. “I am designing constantly,” he said. “I don’t get bored, but also the client doesn’t get bored and the stores feel special.”
Larger collections with countless orders, he believes, lessen the jewelry’s value, thus Armstrong does not have plans to sell Nak DNA to large department stores. “I am targeting who I want to be in, and if there is one thing that I learned in the past, it is that you are better off waiting to be in the account you belong in rather than finding an account,” he said. Among those targets? Barneys New York; Twist, in Portland, Ore. and Seattle, and Reinhold, in Puerto Rico. All sales will go through Fragments Inc. in New York.
But Armstrong isn’t neglecting his fine jewelry roots — he’s tending to a high-end collection (under the Nak Armstrong label), available through private order only, with retail following this fall. Manufactured in New York, the lineup features raw cuts of diamonds and sapphires, among other stones, with metals in silver and a warm-toned white gold, which Armstrong fittingly has dubbed “cashmere gold.”