THE GLITTERATI QUESTIONNAIRE
10 QUESTIONS FOR DIANA SINGER, OWNER OF D&E SINGER INC.
Diana Singer is legendary in or out of the jewellery business. Wicked smart, sharp-tongued and hilarious. There are few things she doesn’t know how to do. A baker and a foodie, she has an anecdote and a story for everything and she can do the crossword in pen. Enough said amiright?
She has a double major degree from New York University in French and Political Science, neither of which really proved preparatory for a life in the jewellery world! She later went to the Gemological Institute of America for her Graduate Gemology degree.
Diana is the current president of the American Society of Jewellery Historians and has presented lectures at auction houses and educational conferences on subjects such as jewellery history, aesthetic analysis, business issues relating to the industry, to name a few. Her articles and reviews have graced the pages of many a magazine and industry journal.
“Working with my relatives and then on my own during the most exciting time in the industry- the 80’s through the 2000’s- was a fabulous learning and life experience. Meeting gemstone and jewellery experts from all over the world, handling jewels from the ridiculous to the sublime, and realising that good taste and chic might be defined differently in other locations and cultures.
Being in this business has been a life shaping learning experience for me. Even after all these years of buying and selling and handling jewellery, I feel my heart beat faster when I see something great. Jewellery is art and money and power and excess and necessity and happiness and I’m lucky to get to work with it every day.”
1. WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I'm inspired by a few things. First, by people who are consummate professionals at what they do, especially in this industry – there’s so much to know. Second, by people whose sense of style is secure enough to laugh at brands and labels when it’s warranted. Third, by people who insist on making the ethical choice no matter what the circumstances. Fourth, by a child’s sense of wonder when it discovers something new.
2. WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF LUXURY?
Time is our most undervalued commodity. For me, the ultimate expression of luxury would be a surplus of time: to leisurely walk around every museum in the vicinity and appreciate the treasures on display. Time to lie down on a comfortable couch and endlessly read whatever strikes my fancy at that moment. Time to write that book on the jewelry business that I’ve been threatening to write for the past 20 years - I have so many amazing stories to tell.
3. WHICH JEWELER OR WATCHMAKER DO YOU MOST ADMIRE, WHY?
Many people respond by choosing Suzanne Belperron, and I too am guilty as charged. But she’s my choice not just for the astounding sense of volume and proportion so visible in her designs, and for her draconian commitment to manufacturing excellence. This was a woman who was unafraid: of people’s opinions, of the Nazis, of launching her own firm in a time where it was not the easiest thing for a female to do, to unapologetically make decisions. A strong, private, self- assured individual who happened to be a woman. Her very life was the mirror of her unique designs. Bravo, Madame. You’re an inspiration to us all.
4. IN YOUR NEXT LIFE YOU ARE A JEWEL OR OBJECT, WHAT ARE YOU, WHY?
I am one of those amazing boxed sets with interchangeable jewel parts, rivets, and miniature screwdrivers from the deco/art moderne days. How fun and elegant and cool to be able to transform yourself with style just by moving parts around. So practical!
5. SET A DINNER TABLE FOR 6:
ALIVE OR DEAD - WHO ARE THE 5 MOST INTERESTING/FUNNY/TALENTED
INDUSTRY PEOPLE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR TABLE WITH?
Ralph Esmerian – charming, knowledgeable, sophisticated.
Pat Saling – wicked sense of humor, experienced, has seen everything.
James de Givenchy – insanely talented, imaginative, the consummate gentleman.
Louis Cartier – tell us about your worldwide travels and your customers.
Dr. Annella Brown, one of the first female surgeons and an impassioned jewelry collector – opinionated, brilliant, unafraid of anything. She was unforgettable, a true rara avis.
Now you’ve got me wondering how they’d all get along….
6. YOUR DREAM JOB IT WEREN'T THIS ONE
A personal shopper.
Or a psychiatrist.
Some days, with some people, aren’t they the same thing?
7. YOUR GREATEST JEWELLERY/WATCH MEMORY/EXPERIENCE TO DATE?
When that Lacloche Freres buff top ruby, emerald and diamond floral bracelet sold at Sotheby’s in November of 1987. The day of the sale was the day the stock market took a precipitous dive. The estimate was $ 40,000-50,000 and it brought $440,000. Let’s leave it at that.
8. YOUR FAVORITE GEMSTONE?
Spinel. So many colors to choose from. Versatile! – goes from tacky and cheap when synthetic and set in a high school ring all the way to elegant and irreplaceable in a gorgeous vintage mount.
Nice to keep one’s options open.
9. YOUR MOTTO FOR PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS?
Do what you say you’re going to do. Dependability is very important in this complex world of ours.
10. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT IN THE INDUSTRY?
Read “Flow”, by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
To that point, a big part of this business is rooted in passion; work and fun should be one and the same for you. Intimately understand what constitutes good design and good workmanship and decide how you want to use this awareness. And know that the human soul has always coveted beautiful jewels, and always will.