Joan Hornig makes jewelry that gives back, and in a major way. Throughout her career as a designer, her namesake line has donated more than $1 million to charitable foundations across the globe. Not only are her designs worn by the likes of Meghan Markle, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Michelle Obama (to name a few), but her new line, Pavé The Way, which soft launched this September, will continue to donate all of its proceeds to the charity of the buyer’s choice.
On a September afternoon I stopped by Joan Hornig’s Southampton home where the designer enthusiastically described to me the new line and what it represents. One part of the collection, which consists of many options, includes designs of miniature construction tools — like a hammer, wrench, and screw. Delicate in structure, but with an edge, these collectible pieces are all meant to tell a story. Each of the charms are “familiar but powerful,” Hornig stated.
“It’s their story,” she said of the consumer wearing and showcasing the pieces, which can be worn individually, but look fantastic layered, dangled delicately over one’s décolleté.
One of the causes the collection represents is female empowerment and it’s evident with statement pieces that also include a microphone, ruler, barbell, and scale — all meant to spark conversation. It’s also about “empowering the non-profits. You’re telling the non-profit of your choice’s story,” explained Hornig. “This is about self selection.” With these pieces you can add to the story, remove from the story, or your story can change.
Among what looks like a hundred necklaces, Hornig pulls out a miniature scale hanging on a delicate sterling silver chain.
“When you think that a woman gets paid 79 cents on a dollar, I think it’s very important to keep the scale even. I went off of the idea of weighing gold . . . We are gold. We are platinum. We are diamonds. We are everything as women. I think this is a very important piece,” she said.
Speaking of gold and diamonds, for the base of each piece “we do every one in sterling, gold, and rose gold,” said Hornig. The pieces also include conflict-free diamonds as accents, creating the perfect balance.
The first piece to be developed was the microphone, “a key piece in really launching this line,” said Hornig. This could represent a few different meanings, but “speaking out” is what comes to mind for many.
“The microphone launched it in a big way, because — at the point of MeToo and Times Up — the idea that not every woman who has a story to tell has the ability to speak out and be heard. Because most people with a story could not risk it. People began to notice that everyone has something to say and they should be heard. That’s what inspired me to do all of this,” she said.
“It’s a very interesting way to tell a story about yourself,” she continued. “Inevitably someone will comment on it, and the whole point of this jewelry is to get people to talk about what they care about. And to create a donation.” Each piece is a collectible and meant to evoke conversation and represent something about the person wearing it.
A few other causes represented are gun violence and environmentalism.
“The ‘No Bracelet’ is unfortunately much too relevant,” she said pointing out a necklace made up of bullets that spell “N-O.” She worked with the students who survived the Parkland school shooting to create this one. “Gun safety is all of our problem,” she stated, referencing another shooting the day prior. She noted that despite anyone’s political views, “No one wants gun violence.”
The “Plastic Straws Suck” has also been a hit within the collection, and represents the push for the ban of straws for environmental reasons.
Wellness and healthy eating are also represented in the “Food For Thought” portion of the collection. These charms include almonds, pomegranate seeds, a heart made out of asparagus, kale, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes — “two, to remember we have sweethearts,” said Hornig. This portion of the line can represent energy. Food, especially healthy food, fuels us.
“I think that any woman can have as many carrots as they want,” she said about the carrot piece, also a play on words, which is a consistent theme within the collection.
The pear, which could also represent a pair, holds a special meaning to Hornig.
“It’s referencing the World Trade Center for me,” said Hornig. “I started my whole line because of what happened on 9-11. There were Twin Towers. Something lived through it and that was the pear tree. It was then struck by lightning years later; it’s still living. This is to remind us that we can be resilient and that we can have hope. This is a very important piece to me.”
The designs are two years in the making. And the price points are accessible, yet still aspirational, with most in the $200 to $400 range, some lower and some higher.
“It doesn’t have to be a $3000 item to have great meaning,” she said. Remember, these pieces are all respectively made with ethically sourced diamonds, sterling silver, and 23 karat gold.
“I don’t look at this as the new kind of charm bracelet. I look at this as a new kind of ice breaker and conversation starter,” she said, emphasizing that the goal is to have conscious consumers “wearing what we want to communicate.”
The collection is available online or you can just “buy it off my neck,” joked Hornig, recalling when someone at the Hampton Classic last month did just that.
The website is www.pavethewayjewelry.com. It’s also sold at the Museum of Art and Design at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, where “I can’t keep the drills in stock,” said Hornig, as well as at actress Phoebe Cates’s (Fast Times At Ridgemont High) boutique Blue Tree on the Upper East Side.
Coming up, Pavé The Way will be at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue in Sara’s Armoire, on Thursday, September 27, on the fourth floor, from noon to 7 PM.
Photos by Lisa Tamburini