JEWELRY DESIGNER Andrea Lipsky-Karasz creates instantly wearable, effortless pieces that feel as if you've worn them your whole life.
OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO in 19th century Budapest, a fashionable young woman with exquisite taste set about making her own jewelry. As a dancer and artist, she already loved to create—especially when it was wearable. Her travels with her husband led her around the world—through Bolivia, Thailand, Turkey, and finally Paris, that city of style and beauty that attracts the young and sparkling. She continued to handcraft her own jewels, sketching designs she would make in her studio at her home in the French countryside and incorporating bijou she had picked up around the world.
“MY GRANDMOTHER WAS SO ELEGANT, and HER STYLE WAS SO CLASSIC. SHE WORE PERFECT LIGHT WOOL COATS WITH HERMÈS SCARVES AND TAILORED THAI SILK DRESSES."
From left: Aurora Bracelet, $1,050; Drop Flip Ring, $1,550; Lily Stem Earring, $850; Stratus Earring, $600
Two generations of women later and her granddaughter, jewelry designer Andrea Lipsky-Karasz, launched her own line, named after her great grandmother Tilda Biehn. Influenced by her time spent with her grandmother crafting jewelry and learning about fashion, art, and style, Lipsky-Karasz launched her line in 2014 with no formal jewelry training (she studied journalism before the jewelry bench beckoned). “My grandmother just had to create,” she says. “She would make puppets out of silk and felt scraps and put on shows for all of us great grandchildren, and then draw a coloring book for us with stories in it, and then rush off to cook an incredible meal. Once, when she knew I couldn't sleep, we snuck off together in the middle of the night with scissors and a flashlight to pick grapes in her vineyard and ate them sitting on the stone wall, listening to the sounds of the crickets at night. She made the world feel like magic.”
Her grandmother’s creativity shows up in many Lipsky-Karasz’s designs, which bridge the gap between elegant, creative, and effortless. She draws upon her grandmother's original sketches and occasionally uses her tools, which were left in her studio in the South of France (as are some of her vintage pieces). “She was so elegant, her style was so classic. She wore very refined clothes,” says Lipsky-Karasz. “Perfect light wool coats with an Hermès scarf and one of the tailored Thai silk dresses she had made while she was living there. Her jewelry was like an explosion on top of that. These large silver sculptural pieces juxtaposed against her well edited clothing. It always came off as effortless, just as it should.”
“MY GRANDMOTHER JUST HAD TO CREATE. SHE WOULD MAKE PUPPETS OUT OF SILK AND FELT scraps AND PUT ON SHOWS.”
For Lipsky-Karasz, jewelry is a beautiful extension of yourself. Barneys picked up her inaugural collection, and her pieces often incorporate vintage gemstones or most recently, misshapen pearls with sculptural shapes. “I love to find ancient jewelry from around the world and see what the similarities are. When I find a shape that pops up in byzantine designs or ancient javanese designs, or early celtic designs, I know there must be something elemental about it. It's all about finding that form and distilling it to the essence.”
Just like that piece you discover in your grandmother's jewelry box and pull out with wonder, before draping it about your neck or in your ear, Lipsky-Karasz’s pieces instantly feel like you’ve owned them your whole life.
I love a savory breakfast - if I can get some feta and olives happening in the morning I'm a happy girl. Plus all the coffee I can get my hands on.
2. What was the last thing you dreamed about?
I have a recurring dream that involves a baby, miniature elephant. The little guy is always getting into trouble and needing me to take care of it. Splashing all the water out of his bath and the like.
3. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
I would fly, of course. Total freedom. Explore the clouds.
4. What is your spirit animal?
Once upon a time it was a dingo. While I was hiking in Australia, I did a three day fast by a river. On the last day a dingo appeared across my little clearing and just stopped there, looking at me for ages. I think she chose herself as my spirit animal.
These days it's probably the little bird who desperately tries to get through my window to reach the orchid inside. I relate to that sort of determined striving for a beautiful object.
5. What is your greatest creative achievement?
I think that it's continuing to create, rather than a single achievement. Every time I finish a design I wonder if I have another left in me.
6. If you could swap lives with anyone in history (alive or dead), who would it be?
Pina Bausch, just for a bit. It was one thing to watch her performances, but it would be another to look out at the world with her eyes.
7. What is your favorite song?
Picking one is tough, but I'm gonna go with Missy Elliot, "Get Ur Freak On." That song has single handedly gotten me through some harrowing late night road trips. Any time you need extra energy, Missy has your back.
8. Favorite artists?
Constantin Brancusi for ever. Right now I'm deep in an Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Lewitt, Calder phase that seems unlikely to end anytime soon.
9. If you could wear one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A flowing silk robe and all the gold.
10. Any hidden talents?
I can bake cornbread on a camp stove. I can't bake at home, but put me in the woods and I can break out some skills.