There is something so intriguing about modern jewelry design, and New York-based designer Eddie Borgo certainly understands this. Launching his line just six years ago, he was named 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Runner-Up and won both the CFDA Swarovski award for Accessory Design and the Tiffany & Co. Development Grant in 2011. Today, his blend of refined craftsmanship with street inspiration delivers covet-worthy collections that have expanded to include seasonal women’s and men’s lines. I sat down with Borgo to talk about his passions – music, New York City and (of course) jewelry.
NM: Describe your favorite jewelry moment.
EB: I am a huge fan of Elsa Peretti, and I remember the first time I saw the photograph of her bone cuff. It’s sort of a very historical image. It’s a femur bone with a cuff on top of it with little ladybugs crawling on it. It’s an impactful image. It represented the time when she [Elsa Peretti] was making all the jewelry that ergonomically fits over your bones.
NM: Do you have a personal design mantra?
EB: Know your legs. If you are really good at doing something, do it! Give your customer what she wants to see from you. I don’t want to follow the trajectory of another brand; I want to pave my own.
NM: Describe your ideal day in New York City.
EB: It would be at work because I am always working. Having time to sit down and be able to talk through a lot of the things that I’m seeing as we travel as a team, to hear feedback and take things in. I would also like to have the time to take a day off of work. I really want to go to The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, spend time with friends and not talk about jewelry.
NM: Name one thing that would surprise people about you.
EB: I think people would be surprised to know that I’m not that cool. People think that I am this cool guy but I’m really not that cool, I’m actually very shy and introverted. The company has taught me not to be that way – it’s taught me to be more outgoing.
NM: The right piece of jewelry can…
EB: Establish your identity and identify your taste. When you think about the history of adornment you can think about all of these pictures and personalities through time, and there is this identifiable characteristic that only their jewelry can tell. When you think of the iconic image of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen ¬– Sid with the padlock around his neck ¬– it says something about his identity, his taste and where he was at that point in his life. It transcends clothing and other accessories. Jewelry is so personal, it’s the most personal part of someone’s wardrobe.
NM: Has music always influenced you?
EB: My parents are huge music buffs. I grew up with a huge vinyl collection. We didn’t really listen to cassette tapes, and we listened to vinyl on a record player. It made me appreciative of not only music and classical music but also American rock music in particular. I also became aware of all the personalities through the album cover art and the creative that went into conveying a message about the artist at that time. I keep those things in my head when thinking about how to communicate to our clients.
NM: What are some of your favorite bands?
EB: Patti Smith, The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, The Beatles, David Bowie (there are so many David Bowie songs where I still want to burst into tears.)
NM: What jewelry staple should every woman own?
EB: All of the classic pieces – a beautiful signet ring, a gorgeous watch and heritage or heirloom jewelry. I am a big lover of jewelry that has been passed down through generations. From our collection, a cone bracelet is a staple that every woman should own. We just launched a tennis-bracelet size, which is a great introductory bracelet. She can wear it with her timepiece or a heritage piece to make it modern.