All my life, I have been inspired to

All my life, I have been inspired to

create

About

About

In essence, I’ve created my own niche, the jeweler turning his meticulous eye and art on a world beyond a woman’s wrist, neck, and ears. I’m fascinated by the idea of taking everyday objects around us and turning them into jewels for the home.

My career began in 1981 with a necklace created for my mother. Years later, after gaining success and recognition as a jewelry designer, I created my first bejeweled picture frame. Since that first frame, the collection has grown to encompass luxurious designs from figurines to furniture. I am very proud to work with a talented team of designers and artisans in New York, Rhode Island, and around the world to realize each handcrafted treasure.

Jay Strongwater

Heritage

1960

1960

Jay’s early years

Jay Feinberg is born (we’ll explain the name change later!) outside New York City and after a brief time in the midwest, and grows up in northern New Jersey. Always coloring and creating as a youngster, Jay is encouraged by his parents and teachers to pursue his love of arts and crafts by learning weaving, macramé, and metalsmithing. Jay attends the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, focusing on fashion.
1981

1981

Jay’s first jewelry designs

During summer break between his sophomore and junior years of college, Jay was shopping with his mother at the then-fashionable New York City store Bonwit Teller. Inspired by a necklace his mother liked in the case, Jay quickly painted wooden beads and designed a few bold necklaces for mom! Soon thereafter, Jay found himself meeting buyers at open-call days at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. With his first orders in hand, Jay went back to school for a few months, before deciding to leave and open Jay Feinberg Fashion Jewelry.
1983

1983

Collaborating with Oscar de la Renta

After first setting up shop near his home in New Jersey, Jay eventually opens a design studio in New York City—working with small, interesting jewelry suppliers and workshops. His big break happens upon meeting Oscar de la Renta and designing fabulous jewelry to be featured in Oscar’s runway shows. Jay’s jewels soon garner editorial coverage in Vogue, Women's Wear Daily, and Harper’s Bazaar. More stores place orders, including Neiman Marcus and Harrods. As the business grows, Jay enlists his parents—Marty and Penny—as well as Aunt Evelyn (an expert bookkeeper!) to come aboard and join the business.

1982 - 1989

The business grows/road bumps

Jay rides the wave of big, bold fashion jewelry during the 1980s, but realizes he needs a proper business investor to support all the growth the company is experiencing. Jay eventually finds the right financial partner, but unfortunately their relationship only lasts about a year, and the breakup causes Jay Feinberg Ltd. to close.
1990

1990

Jay Strongwater is launched

Encouraged by their customers, Jay and his family reopen the business, but due to legal licensing issues, decide to rename it Jay Strongwater—using Jay’s mother’s maiden name. Penny’s grandparents were from Germany where their surname was “Starkwassar.” When they moved to America, it was anglicized to “Strongwater” at Ellis Island. Jay presents his first Jay Strongwater collection to buyers and press in May of 1990, shipping to his best customers soon thereafter.
1994

1994

Jewels for the home

Just as Jay Strongwater was becoming re-established, the winds of fashion changed, ushering in minimal clothing and very little jewelry. While sitting at his workbench designing new earrings, Jay played with manipulating these jewelry components to form his first all-jeweled picture frame. This serendipitous moment led to a small grouping of frames, which Jay presented at the New York Gift Show—each one a precious collage of carved metal and hand-set jewels with enamel backplates and kickstands. That first frame—named “Patricia,” for his mother who had recently passed—was the cornerstone of his “Jewels for the Home” collection.
1995-2005

1995 - 2005

The first 10 years

Very quickly, Jay’s home designs began to supplant his jewelry business, as clients clamored for each new home collection—and he adds small boxes and clocks alongside larger, more exquisite frames each season. As his father retires from the business, Jay partners with the Weingeroff family in Cranston, Rhode Island, to produce and grow the collection.

Jay begins to put together a New York City atelier, and a Rhode Island workshop of designers and craftspeople to help realize more complex designs—candlesticks, figurines, and wall mirrors. Jay Strongwater soon becomes a leading brand in the home departments at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, and internationally at Harrods in London and Tanagra in the Middle East. Jay Strongwater jewel box stores are opened in Las Vegas, Russia, and Dubai.

2011

2011

Partnering with Aurora Holdings

Jay Strongwater is acquired by Aurora Holdings, owner of the iconic American brand MacKenzie-Childs. Jay and his team continue to design the entire collection in New York City. Metal forging remains in Rhode Island, while a brand-new workshop for enameling and stone-setting is opened in upstate New York.

“I am honored to be working with Aurora Holdings team, building upon the heritage of Jay Strongwater and expanding the materials and designs we can work in. I have always been inspired by the great ateliers of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Fabergé, and would like to make that concept relevant in today’s world for Jay Strongwater.” – Jay

2015

2015

Celebrating 20 years of fabulousness

The Jay Strongwater team celebrates their twenty-year anniversary of designs for the home with an extraordinary collection of five spectacular designs—each one limited to an edition of 20. Individually, they tell the story of a fantastical design first realized in rough sketches, then a clay model, followed by forged metal, and finally embellished with layers of enamels and thousands of sparkling crystals. Jay visits 10 Neiman Marcus stores throughout the fall season, meeting collectors and selling out the entire collection.

Present

Present

Jay Strongwater today

“Here in the New York studio, we start each day with a rough sketch, a glint of an idea, a sample of a new technique, and we dream a little bit. How can we enchant our customers with our artistry? How can we push the boundaries of what we create? Slowly, over months, our dreams are realized, with painstaking care for all the details that each design deserves. The designers and myself—well, we are like proud parents, handing off each design to our colleagues in the Rhode Island, New York, and overseas workshops.

There, our artisans, with their talent and patience, will re-create each individual design many times over. The craftsmanship is always impeccable and the materials are superlative. The design is as stunning today as it will be many years from now. But no matter how many times we make a design, we never lose sight of the fact that when you hold your piece of Jay Strongwater, it has to dazzle you.” - Jay

Process

1

Inspiration & Design

Inspired by the beauty of bears in nature, Jay and his team of designers made some initial rough sketches of how a Jay Strongwater standing bear figurine might be realized in metal with crystal accents. After studying images of bears, this particular pose was selected as the starting point for a series of more detailed drawings.

2

Making the Model

Over the course of several months, the final drawing was brought to life in a detailed wax model, capturing the majestic beauty of the bear. Particular attention was focused on the texture of the bear’s fur. The overall scale was studied to determine where the model would be separated, in order to fit into a production mold.

3

Creating Castings from Molds

At the Jay Strongwater Rhode Island workshop, three black rubber molds were made from the original model—the top half of the bear, the bottom half of the bear, and the base log. Once the molds have been baked and hardened, molten pewter is slowly poured into the mold, capturing all of the details and nuances from the artisans’ original model. Hours later, once the pewter has hardened, the mold is split open and the raw castings are carefully removed.

4

Soldering, Polishing, & Plating

The initial three castings are polished to remove any imperfections and then soldered together to form the standing figurine. Additional hand-polishing helps to bring out the highlights of the the bear’s fur. This polished, raw figurine is then sent to the electroplating room for his final metal finish. Each bear is strung up on racks with copper wires and lowered into the plating tanks for several coatings of metal, starting with nickel and finishing with 14K gold.

5

Enameling

Jay and the designers in the New York City studio review the gold-finished bear and begin to apply swatches of enamel to determine which colors look best on the bear and log. Enamel can be applied either in broad strokes with a brush, or in minute detail through a fine needle tip. To achieve the desired effect on the bear’s fur, the first layers of topaz enamel are brushed on the entire figurine, and then shaded details (and many more colors) are applied through a needle, over the course of several hours. The enamel cures and hardens overnight.

Meet Jay

Jay Strongwater will be out and about, visiting some of his favorite stores this season. Please stop in on event day to meet Jay and learn more about his celebrated, handcrafted designs. He'll also be signing pieces purchased during the event! Please contact the store locations for full details.
December 8

Neiman Marcus Orlando

The Mall at Millenia
4170 Conroy Road
Orlando, FL 32839
407-264-5900
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December 9

Neiman Marcus Charlotte

SouthPark
4400 Sharon Road
Charlotte, NC 28211
704-442-7900
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