When Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement in 2010, the soon-to-be Duchess debuted in a blue wrap dress to match her blue sapphire and diamond sparkler. The engagement ring was crafted in 1981 for Princess Diana by Garrard, official jeweler to the royal family. “With a young new princess came this newfound love for Garrard,” says Romana Malinowski, store director of A. Marek Fine Jewelry (3021 Butterfield, Oak Brook), the only U.S. location to carry the brand. “It gave Garrard a rebirth, a chance to come back and be in the forefront of people’s minds, even as the oldest jewelry house in the world.”
From the Imperial State Crown to Queen Elizabeth’s magnificent tiaras, Garrard has crafted some of the most distinguished jewels in history — and is continuing to grab the attention of a new crop of jewelry enthusiasts, including stars like Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian. Recently, the brand’s pieces made the journey across the pond and landed at A. Marek. We chatted with Malinowski about what it’s like to be the sole American store to carry the luxury brand — and what else they have up their (probably bejeweled) sleeves:
Splash: How did the A. Marek and Garrard relationship begin?
Romana Malinowski: We were looking for something to really knock our [clients’] socks off. We were pleasantly received by [Garrard CEO] Eric Deardorff and [Garrard International Wholesale Manager] Antoine Oger at Baselworld [a global jewelry and watch show] earlier this year. They loved our international partners — we carry collections from Spain, Italy, France, Greece, London and Germany — and the feel of our store.
Garrard “Wings” double pendant with pave diamonds in 18-karat white and rose gold, $24,000
S: Since then A. Marek has rolled out more than 30 Garrard pieces in store. How’s the reaction been?
RM: We’re not afraid to show customers things they won’t see anywhere else. Since we’ve been on the Garrard website [as the official U.S. partner], we’re getting worldwide requests for the pieces. People get it. It’s like owning a piece of royalty. They’re signed, they have provenance and people all over the world will recognize that.
S: What is your favorite winter jewelry trend?
RM: Rose gold jewelry. Its appearance is very soft and feminine and enhances a woman’s skin tone. Winter also [sees rose gold] mixed with the darker gemstone colors of rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Long chandelier-style earrings are always the earring of choice for the holidays — fun and sexy.
S: How should Chicago women wear Garrard?
RM: Most [Garrard] pieces can be worn for everyday as well as special occasions. Their “Wings” collection — well, who doesn’t want to be someone’s angel? The pendants are stunning with a black evening dress, but just as wonderful with a white shirt and a pair of jeans. The “Entanglement” collection is all about a love that has no beginning and no end. For Chicago’s women, Garrard jewelry should become an everyday indulgence — timeless, unique and beautiful.
S: Do you have plans for any upcoming Garrard events?
RM: We’d like to do another spring launch as clients become more familiar with the brand. The exposure to the American market is huge.
Garrard “Wings” collar with pave diamonds in 18-karat white gold, $165,000