For Maria Canale, “ease is the secret to true elegance” and the credo applies to both her design aesthetic and the trajectory of her business.
Patiently, she’s building up her fine jewelry brand under the ownership of Diarough. She’s transitioned from decades of designing behind the scenes for Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, De Beers and others, to establishing an eponymous collection that for several seasons sold exclusively at Neiman Marcus, until two years ago. Then the distribution grew to also include independent retailers, such as Mitchells, Wilkes Bashford and the Tiny Jewel Box, as well as Saks Fifth Avenue.
In an unorthodox move this spring, two of Canale’s collections were put on display at the new John Barrett salon at 36 East 57th Street. “It’s the perfect place. It’s our client base. John has been a good friend,” she said.
In the front of the salon, there’s an expanse of windows with a tall case displaying Canale’s Flapper collection including buckle necklaces with long strands of golden beads. There’s another glass case displaying the Pyramide collection, which combines dark black onyx or bright white agate with a cut diamond against 18-karat yellow gold.
“They’re looking at the jewelry while waiting for their hair color. John makes the setting quite beautiful and relaxing. This is a new innovative concept in beauty, and very different from his other salons.”
The Voyager collection of wood jewelry, crafted in German walnut and 18-karat yellow gold and colored gemstones — like topaz, tourmaline, citrine — was introduced at the Couture jewelry show in Las Vegas, held Thursday and continuing through this Monday. “All the wood pieces have colored stones or gold within them,” Canale said. “I’m using wood in an easy, refined way. There’s a handcrafted feel. I’ve always loved the softness and sheen of wood. It brings warmth.” Voyager was just launched on Moda Operandi, the luxury fashion web site. The Flapper collection is also available on Moda Operandi.
To support the growth, Canale last fall opened a 1,200-square-foot showroom on Madison Avenue between 63 and 64th Streets, which also houses her offices and design space and is used for events and small gatherings.
“Our business model has evolved over these past two years as we explore a diversified retail base,” Canale said, “but we are not in any competing markets. I’m keeping it to one account per city.
“These last few years I’ve pulled the brand forward,” said Canale, who was a goldsmith apprentice at age 13, has a degree in metalsmithing from the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology, and is a graduate of FIT.
“Launching into that next phase, it takes a lot, but it’s been great for me. I can really focus on what I do best. I am not trendy. I love classic, beautiful jewelry.”
Diamonds are still a girl’s best friend, but women have become discreet with the glitter. As Canale said, “Some people don’t want to wear diamonds all the time. They just want to feel they can throw something on and it’s fashionable and elegant. Even in Palm Beach these days, women are not wearing a lot of diamonds during the day. I still do a lot of diamond pieces, but it’s nice to design something to wear all the time.”
Last fall, Canale visited 22 stores around the country. “I’m in stores all the time. I’m constantly with my clients. I know they want things they can wear everyday. If it’s luxury jewelry, they want something they won’t see everywhere but feel very comfortable. People want to wear their jewelry. They don’t want to keep in the vault.”
Canale’s designs range from $1,000 for a drop earring in gold and diamond, to $550,000 natural blue green diamond earrings.
A tabletop collection of candlesticks, picture frames and other home products is Canale’s latest project. She’s eyeing a spring 2020 launch. “They’re small tactile, smooth and sensuous, really in wood, crystal and metal.”
Canale has six lines in all which can “sit together to mix and match,” she said. “Each have a different theme, but it’s all high-end luxury and classic. You can see the Deco inspiration in almost everything I do. It’s a very clean and very elegant aesthetic.”