From micro-pave to mega-watt glam, jeweler Martin Katz dazzles Hollywood stars and titans of industry alike. In fact, you’ll spot his spectacular jewelry collections on many of the celebrities strolling the red carpet at the Emmy Awards this month. GIA Guest Blogger, Dawn Moore interviewed Martin so that we could get to know more about this award-winning jeweler designer and peek into a world where stars and gems sparkle in the limelight.
About Martin Katz
Martin Katz is a jewelry designer and passionate purveyor of important gems, renowned for his exquisite jewelry collections and uniquely approachable manner. Katz has an international reputation as a favorite of the Hollywood elite. He is regularly written about in fashion magazines and his jewelry has graced the covers of Town & Country, W, People, Elle, InStyle and Vogue.
DM: Essentially, you are pretty quiet about dressing actresses during awards season. Yet, you are the #1 choice for many. Why do you think that is?
Martin Katz: We’ve developed a relationship with both celebrities and stylists so have not missed a red carpet in 24 years.
You know, how we got on to the red carpet was quite by accident. A client of mine who was also an actress called. “My co-star loves your jewelry and when I told her I knew you she said, “’Get him down to the set!’”
So I get there and introduce myself, “Hi I’m Martin Katz.” And she says “Hi, I’m Sharon Stone.” She fell in love with a few pieces saying she’d let me know the next day what she wants. The next day my client called, “Sharon wants to borrow the choker and the earrings for the premier of her new film ‘Basic Instinct’.” I said, “I guess I misunderstood, I thought she wanted to buy them. I’m very sorry please apologize to her, but I don’t loan jewelry.” Of course, my client was incredulous. I said, “Unless she’s wearing a sandwich board with my name on it, no one will know the jewels came from me. God forbid she loses something. I have everything to lose and nothing to gain, so please express my apologies.”
Later, I get a phone call from the head of Paramount – who happened to be my client’s husband – asking why I wouldn’t loan Sharon jewelry. I explained and he said, “She insists on wearing your jewelry, so I’m in a bit of a bind. I have to ask if you’ll do it as a favor to me.” Of course, I couldn’t say no to a client, but I asked for a favor in return. “Will she be willing to wear my jewelry for the press shoots? Then at least I’ll get a byline.”
Of course it was a huge hit, she was on every cover in the world and I was right by her side giving her jewelry. Then the phones rang off the hook.
DM: Tell us your favorite “saved-the-day” red carpet story. There’s always one.
Martin Katz: One year Salma Hayek and I worked out what she was going to wear to the Oscars about three weeks ahead. It was the longest lead-time I ever had. She was going to wear beautiful blue diamonds, something I was saving for an important event.
The day of the Oscars I get a frantic call from the stylist. They’ve busted the zipper on Salma’s dress and she needs an entire wardrobe change. Two hours before she’s supposed to leave. I gathered up all new selections, ran up to their house and was literally securing the clasps as she was getting into the limo!
Another year Minnie Driver wore a beautiful ruby bead bracelet with a 30 ct. cabochon emerald – it had about ten strands of beads so it was about 2 inches wide. She managed to snag it on a chair and the beads went flying in the middle of the show. I learned later that she was on all fours and so was director James Cameron picking up the beads. They got ‘em all!
DM: Has a stone ever brought you to your knees?
Martin Katz: Oh sure. A blue diamond. It was an asscher cut 8 ct. vivid flawless that we bought from Prince Jefri Bolkiah when he had to purge his stones during the trouble with his brother the Sultan of Brunei. We bought and sold that stone three times.
DM: What gemstone do you think is totally unsung?
Martin Katz: Good question. Well for me, it’s a Paraiba tourmaline.
I have one now that I originally bought 13 years ago, sold it 12 years ago and I just bought it back last year for three and a half times what I sold it for. I think it’s currently worth two and a half times what I paid for it!
DM: Your micro-set stackable bands were a game-changer and are now widely imitated.
Martin Katz: Instantly. And so imitated that it burned out.
One of our biggest clients with this ring was Cindy Crawford. I used to make micro-micro-set rings for her – they were so small, they were like diamond dental floss. It was just fantastic. We would use like .06 ct stones – they were really quite something.
We still have clients who collect them. Those bands have never been out of my window since the first day I opened the Beverly Hills store.
DM: You have said, “If I could match up all the husbands who want to spend with all the wives who want to wear, my business would be incredible.”
Martin Katz: Yes, it’s weird. When a man loves jewelry, that’s when you’re really going to sell the most important pieces. I was just talking with a client of mine who about 11 years ago wanted to buy a blue diamond for his wife – a $1.5 million purchase at the time. That’s a $12 million diamond now! And his wife said, “I wouldn’t wear it. I’d rather have a pick up truck.” Can you believe it? Those were her words!
Get know more about Martin Katz and find out why puka shells matter by reading the full interview, Conversation with Jewelry Designer Marin Katz.
GIA Guest Blogger: Dawn Moore, GIA AJP
Drawing on her experience as Regional Director at Harry Winston, Mikimoto and Chopard, Dawn Moore writes about world-class jewels for The Huffington Post, C Magazine, The Los Angeles Times and Santa Barbara Magazine. Read more about her: www.mooreabout.com