Beverly Hills jeweler Martin Katz is expanding his brand into lifestyle categories with the help of global agency Prominent Brand + Talent.
Working in the industry since 1988, Katz was one of the first jewelers to have a presence on the Hollywood red carpet. Since 1992, he has bedazzled Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston and more in his colorful gems and signature micro band rings, parlaying his celebrity touch into other high-profile gigs, including designing the Victoria’s Secret Black Diamond Fantasy bra and the Jewel Suite at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel.
Made to be worn just as easily with blue jeans as with a gown, his “contemporary jewelry with an old soul,” as he calls it, is stocked by Net-a-porter and Moda Operandi, among other retailers. Katz’s next act will see him extending his glittery aesthetic to products such as fragrance, candles, eyewear, spirits, home accessories, rugs and furniture.
Expanding his design reach has been a long time coming. “When you have a brush with death, it makes you rethink,” Katz revealed, recounting his personal battle with COVID-19, which had him hospitalized for 59 days last year. “Part of that rethinking was it’s time to reinvent myself, to do things I have been putting off…If you are creative, it transcends borders.”
He found the right partners at Prominent Brand + Talent (other clients include Venus Williams and Celine Dion), who were on board with his goal not to dilute the brand by introducing inexpensive jewelry, but rather to “spread the brand wider using the luxury lifestyle as a base.”
Beauty is a particular area of interest for the jeweler, who has been brainstorming an idea for nail polish incorporating diamond, sapphire and ruby dust.
As part of the branding strategy, in June he’s moving his Beverly Hills boutique from Brighton Way to the Fred Hayman building on Canon Drive, where he is designing and building out the penthouse and terrace as a salon to rekindle the lounge-like vibe of Hayman’s iconic store Giorgio Beverly Hills.
“I remember in my 20s sitting at his bar having a cappuccino,” said Katz. “And when I opened my boutique, he came in and bought something from me to wish me luck and welcome me to the neighborhood.”
In the wake of the daytime robbery at gunpoint in Beverly Hills in early March, when jeweler Shay Belhassen had his $500,000 watch stolen while he was lunching at Il Pastaio on Canon Drive, Katz said he has been heartened by the stepped-up security response of the police department, and still believes in the future of the retail neighborhood.
“Beverly Hills is here to stay,” he said, calling the robbery an “anomaly.” “I was just at Spago and felt fine and I had a watch on almost as valuable as that one.”
The enduring branding power of the red carpet, though, is something he’s less sure about. “Celebs used to come in personally,” said Katz, lamenting how times have changed. “Over the last two to three years, I strongly considered putting out a press release that we won’t loan out jewelry anymore because it’s a pay-to-play game now, or you have to give away a lot of jewelry.”
After 25 years and a drawer full of thank you notes from stars, he’s happy to let the big brands battle it out, he said. “It gives me a chance to focus on what I love to do, which is work with clients and create unusual jewelry.”