Jill Heller

Jill Heller is our favorite recent discovery, by way of Instagram. The good word came from both ends of the spectrum: We spotted two Upper East Side friends wearing chunky vintage gold pieces in the same week that Rihanna wore Jill Heller-designed diamond cuffs to a pre-Grammy brunch.

Jill is a modern-day treasure hunter. She scours the globe for special vintage and contemporary pieces with provenance and style, and then hand-curates and sells them to a loyal following.

There is also a historical element. Under Jill’s expertise and stylish eye, clients can acquire signed fine jewelry pieces from the likes of Cartier, Belperron, Tiffany, and David Webb. Many also look to Jill for her own designs: Standout cocktail rings and statement earrings that transition seamlessly from day to night. Jill invited us into her art-adorned home overlooking the East River, and we had a ball seeing her collection up close. -Jenna Fain for The Stone Set

How did your love of jewelry begin? Does collecting run in your family?
My love of jewelry began when I was 11. I would go to bead and craft stores with my parents and collect beads that I would make bracelets with. I come from a family of collectors: my father collected watches, cameras and art, and my grandmother collected jewelry.


Tell us about your career arc and how you got to where you are today.
I started making beaded jewelry that I sold to retail stores, the first being Bergdorf Goodman. I also started expanding my personal jewelry collection, buying signed vintage pieces, and realized I loved the hunt. That turned into to buying and curating collections for private clients.

What’s your favorite part about being a jewelry designer, curator, and stylist?
I love helping my clients build their collections and searching to find the perfect piece for them. In the process I learn so much about the importance and historical value of each piece, which I find very interesting. And, in turn, I am also educating the client, which is so rewarding. They fall in love with certain pieces or collections and the stories behind them.


What are your favorite travel destinations for jewelry treasure hunting?
Morocco, Israel, Milan, London, and Paris are my favorites.


What are your favorite jewelry brands to collect and why?
Bulgari is a very important brand founded in Italy in the late 1800s that has so many iconic pieces. I love the snake-inspired bracelets that were first designed in the 1940s. I also like David Webb for his bold designs, and Jean Després for his unique silver pieces that he made himself. His designs are so strong and edgy.


Who are your favorite contemporary designers right now?
Monique Péan for her use of organic materials juxtaposed with precious stones. And Solange Azagury-Partridge for her use of color and playful, whimsical silhouettes.


Is there a certain decade or time period that you’re most drawn to?
Not really—I collect pieces from all different time periods. It’s more about the piece itself, rather than when it was made.


What are your favorite pieces of personal jewelry?
One of my favorite pieces is a 1940s turquoise and white enamel Bulgari serpent watch. I’m also obsessed with huge gold hoops, and just designed a pair that can be customized with your name in script. They’re just so much fun and perfect for everything—from jeans and white tees in the city to more boho resort looks for summer travel.

My favorite and most treasured personal piece is a yellow gold and diamond necklace that David Webb designed for my grandmother.


What have you learned along the way while turning your passion into a business?

Photography by Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set