Island-Chic Jewelry by Tamara Comolli
by laurie brookins
For jewelry designer Tamara Comolli, there was only one choice when she was seeking a location for her second US store: a bright, airy space that opened its doors in November at 150 Worth Avenue. “A spot became available in Palm Beach, and it was very clear we needed to do it,” Comolli, whose Southampton, New York, boutique has been open since 2008, tells Ocean Drive. “Palm Beach offers a similar sensibility [as the Hamptons], a sophistication that still has an air of casual about it, so I knew there would be a customer who would respond to the range of our pieces, from the very gypsy, hippie-chic looks to the core collection of fine jewelry.”
Although she lives part-time in Germany, Comolli feels most closely connected to a beach lifestyle, having been raised in coastal communities of Spain and Gibraltar. It’s also no accident that her house in Germany is situated on a lake, she points out. “I’m always surrounded by water; it gives me peace of mind and inspires me.”
That’s evident in her latest designs, from her signature water-drop pieces crafted in gold and splashed with diamonds to a colorful, highly tactile group she has dubbed the Palm Beach collection. “I signed the lease in May and knew I had to rush to open the store in November,” says Comolli, noting that Worth Avenue merchants are prohibited from remodeling during the height of season. “At the same time, I wanted to design a collection that would feel unique and special, and yet also pay tribute to our new surroundings.”
Chalcedonies in soft pastels of pale green, rose, lemon, and turquoise inform much of the collection and are set in 18k rose gold. “It’s not about loud candy colors, but instead softer pieces that feel sophisticated and yet reflect the colors of Palm Beach,” Comolli says. Another standout grouping is the ocean-inspired Aquacolors, made of Persian turquoise and blue topaz mixed with white cacholong opals, clustersof stones crafted in such a way as to invite play when worn. “I love the way our bracelets dance around the wrist,” she says. “They feel very sensual, and the sound they make when worn can feel quite musical.”
The self-taught Comolli says her designs are driven by a lifelong love of gemstones. “My dad ran casinos, so I grew up in this world of women wearing beautiful, colorful jewelry,” she says. “My mother had the most beautiful jewels, and she would take me with her tothe goldsmith, and I would watch as she’d have them taken apart and made into new pieces. That really started it for me.” By age 17, Comolli had designed her first bracelet collection; by 28, it was a business.
“I’m still not a goldsmith, but that also gives me a lot of freedom,” Comolli says. “I like being the creative mind who drives it, doing the sketches and working with the goldsmith on the wax models. I love those moments when they say, ‘I never thought of doing something like that.’”
Comolli says she’s applied a similar sensibility to both the design of her Worth Avenue store and its wide-ranging product selection, with gems on leather cords to both maximize their versatility and offer pieces at a more affordable price point, on through to her limited-edition Paraiba rings, featuring a trio of one-of-a-kind tourmalines meant to evoke the turquoise waters just blocks away. “I’m such a collector of gems and sometimes hang on to stones, waiting for the perfect design,” she explains. “These tourmalines reminded me so much of the ocean, I released a few of them to make just three rings.”
Comolli’s boutique is indeed a perfect home for those sea blues, with its white wood paneling and shabby-chic wooden floors. Glass cases were designed with wheels so she can change up the store’s look at a moment’s notice, while a children’s corner invites kids to play while parents browse. And in addition to jewelry, you’ll also find her expanding accessories collection, which includes scarves and even bejeweled flip-flops to further cater to the beach lifestyle.
Ultimately the mix stems from Comolli’s desire to make a statement on Worth Avenue, one rooted not only in great design but the ability to relax and have a bit of fun as well. “It can be a little intimidating to be on Worth Avenue—the customers who walk through your doors there have seen it all,” Comolli says. “So there was a minute in which I said to myself, ‘Do I dare to be there?’ But the more time I spend in Palm Beach, the more I discover its versatility, the quaint little corners that are so peaceful or the really over-the-top moments. Now I know it’s the perfect home for us.” 150 Worth Ave., Palm Beach, 561-659-3700; tamaracomolli.com
photography by jason nuttle (comolli)
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.