The X factor

September 6, 2022  |  Jennifer Heebner
Eva Fehren
The clean lines and monochromatic palette of Eva Zuckerman’s Eva Fehren brand celebrate geometry, minimalism, unusual cuts and blackened metals.

An X-motif ring was Eva Zuckerman’s first jewelry design. Today, it’s a standout among fans of her brand, Eva Fehren, which is a shortened version of her mother’s maiden name. Since the debut of the X style in 2011, Zuckerman’s collection has grown to include a wide variety of geometric designs with bold, fancy-cut, colorless diamonds — some antique — in recycled and blackened 18-karat gold and platinum.

“My jewelry is graphic, linear, architectural, delicate and refined — I like to call it a ‘tough but tender’ style,” she says. “In modern life, we must wear so many emotional hats, and I want my jewelry to reflect that modernity and to be able to be worn in all aspects of life. Blackened metals provide a contrast when used against white diamonds and lend the perfect touch of attitude and toughness to our delicate pieces. I love to play with that balance.”

Manhattan mind-set

Zuckerman hails from New York City and earned her degree in fine and studio arts from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 2005. Afterward, she spent several years working for fine jewelers in the city before crafting her first piece. When she did, she leaned on her best friend from high school to help her start the business.

“My friend Ann Gorga and I founded the company, and she continues to be the business arm,” Zuckerman explains. “I am the creative director and designer.”

Taking natural inspiration from the grittiness surrounding them, Zuckerman’s silhouettes, colors (black and white), and fancy cuts serve as an homage to her hometown. Dramatic motifs and effects include zippers, prisms, fringes, daggers, X styles (of course), geometric outlines, and all types of elongated forms, from linear earrings to stone cuts.

While blackened metals may evoke the miles of blacktop within the five boroughs, the white diamonds she uses celebrate the sparkling diversity of the city’s residents. “I want my jewelry to capture the many facets of the people who wear it,” comments Zuckerman. Her slender, diamond-paved X designs mirror the formidable traits of many a New Yorker: strong and unsentimental, but with the “ineffable energy that permeates the atmosphere of the city,” she says.

Fancies for the fans

Given the linear and architectural vibe of her designs, fancy-shaped diamonds were a natural choice for most center stones in her bridal pieces. “I love the boldness of strong, geometric fancy diamonds and the rarity of unique cuts,” Zuckerman explains.

It’s this unapologetically bold offering — the white and black contrast, and the combination of sharp lines with the sentimentality of a diamond engagement ring — that has created what Zuckerman calls a cult following. “Our aesthetic translated naturally into bridal, and creating pieces that feel unique, modern, and design-driven has made us stand out in a crowded bridal scene,” she remarks.

Her fancy-cut centers are not for shrinking violets; the silhouettes scream confidence. Think custom-cut and elongated ovals, hexagons, octagons, elongated kites and baguettes, portrait and rose cuts, shields, trillions, and even a few mainstream shapes like emerald cuts and round brilliants. Those fancies have earned her street cred, including a recent mention in The New York Times. In that article, she described her use of portrait cuts — which notably don’t maximize a diamond’s sparkle — as “irreverent” and “a little rebellious.”

Fine for every age

After more than a decade in business, Eva Fehren boasts collectors in a wide range of age groups — from social media-savvy Gen Z-ers to grandmothers from the Greatest Generation. A mother shopping recently for her goth-loving daughter chose an Eva Fehren Zipper band for the girl’s 18th birthday.

The brand is available in 21 US stores — including Zuckerman’s own Rockefeller Center shop, which opened in 2021 — as well as at one outlet in Kuwait and at e-tailers Twist and Auverture. Luxury merchant Don Purcell of the eponymous store in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of her retail clients. After 25 years at New York department store Jeffrey, he returned home to the south to open his own fine-jewelry shop in 2021, which he promptly stocked with the Eva Fehren line out of love for both the artist and the brand. “Eva has architectural, delicate jewelry that I don’t have from anyone else,” he says. “Her hexagon- and kite-cut diamonds, all those precise cuts…no one else is doing those.”

Plus, her Manhattan-inspired designs keep Purcell connected to the city he called home for so long. “Her jewelry is modern and cool and appeals to everyone. That’s not easy to do.”

Image: Eva Fehren

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