By Anthony DeMarco in New York
American jeweller Martin Katz is known for his high-quality diamond jewellery, pioneering micro-pavé settings and stackable "Microbrand" rings. However, during the past few years, Katz has been increasingly focusing on creating pieces with a variety of coloured gems. His Christmas jewellery uses a mix of emeralds, amethysts, fire opals, rubies, sapphires and other gems in cheery holiday hues, surrounded by micropavé diamonds and colourful stones.
Classic creations in the Martin Katz style, they focus on excellent materials and an adherence to quality designs and craftsmanship. His pavé work is impeccable. Cabochons are polished to a translucent finish. Several of his pieces have design elements on the back. "Attention to detail is one of my benchmarks," he says. "Maybe 90 per cent of what I do is unique and one only."
Now that colour is a major part of his palette, he is constantly in search of rare and unusual gemstones. "I approach things for true design and without concern for the difficulty and cost of making it," he says. "So I become really picky with the stones and even pickier with how to mount them. Working with sketch artists and mounters, I make them crazy. What I come up with is something that reflects a deep passion and vision. I'm not completely sure what I'm looking for, but I know it when I get there."
During the 1980s, Katz was among the first independent jewellers to place his pieces on Hollywood stars at major events, including Nicole Kidman, Barbra Streisand and Ashley Judd. Many remain true to Katz's work today, including Sandra Bullock, who wore Katz's 23.58ct black spinel briolette earrings and white gold clip-on bangle bracelet to the September premiere of the film 'Gravity' at the Venice International Film Festival.
It is perhaps appropriate, then, that the Beverly Hills-based jeweller uses a film analogy to describe his work. "My first consideration is what do I want my art piece to say? My second or third [consideration] is, is it going to sell? It's like an art film as opposed to an action film."
Katz has expanded his talent to hotel design with the recently completed 'Martin Katz Jewel Suite' in the newly renovated Towers at The New York Palace hotel. Bigger than most Manhattan apartments, the three-storey, 5,000sq ft suite includes a living room, dining room and entertainment lounge with an elevated spa. The signature element is a 20ft 'Waterfall of Diamonds' chandelier, which runs along a spiral staircase.
A rotating selection of Katz's jewellery, many from private collections, will be on display in a gallery setting and original artworks - indicative of the designer's 25-year history - line the walls. The suite costs US$25,000 a day and includes a Martin Katz diamond Microband ring and a consultation with the designer. Designing the suite was easy, according to Katz. "It was like designing my house."