Mon Pilar Interview, The Study
Attention, jewelry lovers: the Here We Are collective, a partnership between 1stDibs and New York City Jewelry Week (NYCJW), will open for business on November 14. Now in its fourth year, the marketplace, which will be shoppable through February 2023, showcases 30 participating designers from across the U.S. All bring an array of cultural influences to their work, not to mention exceptional training at university and at the bench.
The marketplace is an important arm of NYCJW’s Here We Are initiative, which offers professional development, mentorship and year-round programming to a diverse group of U.S. jewelers. The goal is to introduce their work to a larger audience while addressing the endemic inequality and lack of representation in the jewelry industry at large.
It “remains a platform for discovery,” says Elliot Carlyle, NYCJW’s director of cultural diversity and inclusion. “So many of our designers have gone on to be part of wonderful, forward-moving initiatives in the industry. We are proud to see their growth in business and as people.”
This year’s cohort presents a unique opportunity for collectors to seek out what’s new, now and next when it comes to the jewelry industry’s unsung but steadily emerging talents.
“The Here We Are marketplace is special because of the stories, the equity, the inclusivity and the values that are tied to making a purchase with this initiative,” Carlyle says. “This collaboration wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t an opportunity to create change.”
Below, get to know the work of 10 standout designers from the marketplace. If you like what you see, don’t hesitate — these stars are on the rise, and you’d be among the first to discover their rare gifts.
Brooklyn-based Chilean-American designer and goldsmith Brigid McNellis returns to the Here We Are collective with her brand, Mon Pilar. Her latest collection, Love You More, she says, is “meant to be a celebration of love, a reminder to love ourselves a little more and an opportunity to cherish — and wear — our loved ones close.”
This pendant is the centerpiece of the series, whose name, McNellis explains, comes from a “sweet phrase my late mother used to say whenever we said goodbye to each other: ‘I love you more.’ My mom was always looking for a way to give more in this world — a good principle to live by and the essence of my brand.” McNellis originally created the heart-shape design as a custom piece, to comfort her grandmother as she grieved over the death of her daughter, McNellis’s mother. “I couldn’t help but be drawn to the form of a heart — at first, I repressed the idea as it felt overly clichéed,” she says.
But she found a way to make it her own. “I had my mother’s cremation ashes saved and decided I would fill and seal the heart with them inside,” McNellis explains. “Before being cast in metal, each heart is carved by hand in wax with a hollow interior for the option of encapsulating cremation ashes, a lock of hair or other small treasure. I leave it up to each client to decide whether they want to use it as an ‘urn pendant’ or not. The design feels weighty and modern. I also love that it has allowed me to experience firsthand the symbolic and magical power that jewelry has embodied since the beginning of time.”