Henry Paul Dunay, the esteemed jeweler and designer known for his exquisite craftsmanship and innovative designs, died on November 10 at the age of 88.
Born Henry Loniewski in Jersey City, New Jersey, on May 1, 1935, he was the second of three sons of Polish Americans Henry and Helen Loniewski.
Dunay’s journey into the world of fine jewelry began at the age of 14 when he apprenticed in the workshop of New York City jeweler Rudolph Cacioli. Starting as an errand boy, he moved up to master model maker and setter, where his work caught the attention of Cacioli, setting the stage for a remarkable career.
At the age of 18, he changed his surname to Dunay, adopting his mother’s maiden name.
In 1956, Dunay founded his own firm. Initially, he took on projects from other manufacturers, including Harry Winston, to sustain himself. However, he developed a unique voice through his designs, which showcased a new way to create proportions and curves. He was one of the first jewelry designers to become a brand name.
Dunay first gained recognition as a winner of the De Beers Diamond International Award, a competition for jewelry designers. His entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to his craft paved the way for a storied career in fine jewelry. The De Beers accolade was the first of more than 50 national and international honors he garnered. His pieces were also exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, and the Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Dunay introduced the “Sabi” finish, a groundbreaking gold technique inspired by the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, characterized by finely hand-etched lines on the gold surface.
In the latter part of his career, he worked for private clients, including Elizabeth Taylor, Hillary Clinton and Drew Barrymore. His pieces were displayed in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, alongside an exclusive clientele of A-List celebrities.
Dunay married his high-school sweetheart, Carol Restivo, in 1958. They had two children: Valerie and Paul. They divorced in 1995. In 1996, Henry married Linda Orlick of Goldstein Public Relations, where she developed the Henry Dunay brand and published the coffee table book Henry Dunay: A Precious Life, written by Penny Proddow and Marion Fasel.
His third marriage was to jewelry designer Frinette (Simon) Dunay, in 2013.
He is survived by Frinette and previous wife Orlick, two children from an earlier marriage, three stepchildren and nine grandchildren.
Funeral services will take place in Brooklyn on November 15.
Image: Henry Paul Dunay. (Facebook)