Haley interviews Karen Bizer
by haley sherif
Karen Bizer loves her work. When I picked up the phone I was greeted with the sweetest of voices, asking me and congratulating me on a big event. It was like we were old girlfriends. You would never expect then that Karen Bizer is a business woman, she owns Karen Bizer Jewels, in competitive New York. She has several collections, but she also creates and manufactures pieces for an elite group of private clientele who come to her with rough sketches or stones picked up on travels across the world. She’s a bubbly mother of two college boys who lives in New York, but summers in the Hamptons and London. Though she works in a rather competitive business, what sets Karen apart from the pack is her true passion for her work, her commitment to making a woman feel beautiful from the inside out. Karen dished on her “aha” moment, summer plans, and much more.
HS: How would you describe your style?
KB: Personally, I like to wear things that are comfortable, look great and can work for all of the various appointments and situations that I encounter throughout the day, from visiting contractors on 47th street to early drinks with a private client. This usually translates into a fitted sheath dress in a solid color like red, navy or dark brown because it always looks really polished. At night, I like to have fun with prints and patterns, and usually pull something from a collection of vintage Pucci, Missoni and current Etro styles. I love the color and the great foil for jewelry that those pieces provide for me. Plus they are a visual symbol for me that says, “day’s over!!!”
Hs: You told me a bit about how your line began, was there one “aha” moment when you realized you had to break out on your own?
KB: I think that when I visited the buying offices of a major department store who I was selling semi-precious hair accessories to at the time, and they ordered 10 beautiful and relatively costly multistrand chunky semiprecious necklaces that were in moonstone, white labradorite and pastel aquamarine, and they sold out, I knew that I was onto something. There was no looking back. Plus everyplace I went people asked me about the jewelry I was wearing and where they could get it. The challenge was to take design to the next level, making sure all individual components(beads, clasps, designs) were unique to my collection.
HS: You told me it’s a kind of thrill to hold a rare stone or gorgeous diamond. What’s a memorable piece you worked on?
KB: I loved redesigning a woman’s original wedding ring which had a gorgeous diamond but a heavy, boring setting. I melted her original platinum into the new ring and reset it so that all visible platinum was covered in microwave diamonds, and reworked the proportion so that the end result looked like a beautiful, delicate sparkly ribbon on her graceful hands. The real compliment came when she started wearing it daily once again. On her tenth anniversary she had a gorgeous new ring that reflected her taste and sense of style. I also loved designing my carved coral and carved jadeite earrings–they are inspired by art deco jewelry and the details that surround the carved stones embody my goal of designing pieces that look beautiful from all angles.they are both delicate and glamorous at once.
HS: Jewels should be a woman’s second skin you say, why then do so many women seem to never have any on? What’s your solution?
KB: I think a lot of women are afraid of making a mistake so they opt out. We’ve all heard the saying “take one piece off when going out the door”. The real truth is that minimal is very dull, and as long as the pieces balance(ie I wouldn’t wear a lot of choker necklaces with big earrings), it will work. Try to develop 2 to 3 full jewelry wardrobes that work together–day, casual night and dressy night for example. Then it becomes easy–you’ve got a go-to stash of great looking accessories without the drama of reworking it day by day.
HS: What pieces do you wear every single day?
KB: I usually wear three necklaces–a choker length flat mandala(good luck) necklace, a collarbone length gray iridescent labradorite bezel-set necklace, and an opera length round white moonstone necklace. Alternatively, I wear a lapis slice choker surrounded by yellow microwave diamonds, along with 3 to 5 multicolor mosaic necklaces which look amazing with everything especially more colorful clothes. On my wrist I always have a wide stack of elastic onyx, white sapphire or orange and pink sapphire, beaded and diamond charm bracelets as well as my signature KB beaded bracelets which are incredibly comfortable and go with everything. A ring or two and my blue diamond oval hoops usually finish it off!!! It sounds like a lot but it all works together and balances out more than any single element would.
HS: You mix and match high and low materials, why is that important to do?
KB: Beauty is always about slight imperfection and contrast and the juxtaposition of a familiar material such as wood or leather against setting precious delights the eye, and slows perception down long enough to really notice what you are looking at, not just glance over it.
HS: What’s the future hold for KB Jewelry?
KB: I’d love to expand to other cities besides New York and the surrounding areas while maintaining my custom business with my private clientele. I’m currently focusing on California and Florida and see where the logical next step takes me.
HS: Any fun summer plans with your sons and family?
KB: We are bouncing around between college breaks and summer work schedules, but we will be in Northern California, the Hamptons, and towards the end of the summer, London. I actually love New York and how sleepy it is in the summer. You can always find me with my sketch pad wherever I am!