Larkspur & Hawk

Larkspur & Hawk jewelry beautifully juxtaposes the Georgian era, revered for its flourishing art and tradition, with modern decadence and color. We imagine characters in our favorite Jane Austen novels boldly sporting the rivières over afternoon tea and scones. The line has quickly built up an exciting and sophisticated following (Sarah Jessica Parker and Vogue are both fans) and is poised for great things.

Founder and designer Emily Satloff, a former antique jewelry dealer, revived the lost 18th-century design technique of foiling for Larkspur & Hawk. She applies treated and colored foils to each gemstone, giving them a more vibrant, metallic, and reflective surface. This allows each piece to manifest mood and light in a unique way to the wearer. On an unseasonably warm afternoon, we visited Emily at her elegantly appointed apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for a hands-on look at the foiling process, collection, and rose lemonade. -Jenna Fain for The Stone Set

“I studied art history and the history of decorative arts, both as an undergraduate and in graduate school, which provided me a perspective and a context to evaluate design. However even in my earliest days I had a fascination for antique jewelry, as I would sift through my grandmother’s jewelry box with delight. I served for many years as a curator of decorative arts at the New York Historical Society, and my background as a museum curator ultimately led me to become an antique jewelry dealer, a profession which I loved for over a decade, finding it to be extremely rewarding. If I weren’t designing today, I would probably have continued to deal in fine antique jewelry.

The term ‘designer’ best describes me and my role at Larkspur & Hawk the best, but, I wear many shoes. Sometimes I even describe myself as chief colorist, as I play with different combinations to see which are the most beautiful for a given design. This background has afforded me the thrill of reviving the beautiful art of the 18th century jeweler, combining rich and intriguing colors with gemstones’ natural sparkle.

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As a dealer and curator, I thought that the excitement I always had when discovering and researching 18th century jewelry could not be surpassed. The love of the hunt, getting up early in the morning to go to antique fairs and holding 200+ year old objects in my hand made me believe that I had found my dream career. That is, until I realized that I had my own burning desire to recreate the past and make something uniquely my own. After prototyping my first modern designs, I knew this was what I was meant to do. Seeing my own designs for the first time and discovering that I could create something modern, beautiful, and wearable was my epiphany; that I could do it.

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My decision to begin the designing phase of Larkspur & Hawk was an evolution rather than a specific moment. My family has always been very supportive of my endeavors with antiques and antique jewelry, so the foray into antique-inspired, modern design was a very natural evolution. My family comprises of artists and entrepreneurs, so they readily understand Larkspur & Hawk’s mission. Indeed, they pitch in as well, lending their experience and guidance from a variety of business perspectives.

The Georgian era for me was the epitome of design sensibility. Wherever one looked was an opportunity for beauty and embellishment. While the artisans of the Georgian era accomplished amazing feats of design, construction, and innovation, they were limited by their environment and the state of the art for the time. As an example, lapidary techniques or stone-settings of the era might be considered crude by today’s standards, but much of Larkspur & Hawk’s ethos is to celebrate the beauty of the Georgian period—not as reproduction, but as our modern interpretation. Another example is the foiling of gemstones. Without electric lights and refined stone cutting, brightly colored foils set behind both precious and semi-precious stones allowed jewelry to brighten a woman’s face in a manner not otherwise possible. Larkspur & Hawk pieces are characterized by a variety of styles, but the bulk of our pieces feature my favorite technique of foiling.

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Larkspur & Hawk is known for a great many silhouettes and styles, but our most celebrated pieces use the lost, colored foil technique that was first popularized in the 18th century. A foil and closed back combination is still appreciated today as a quintessentially Georigian technology employed to brighten stones or intensify their colors, creating a richer, gleaming result. We at Larkspur & Hawk like to refer to this as an example of modern Georgian revival.

Our iconic silhouette is undoubtedly the Rivière; in my opinion if there could be only one piece from Larkspur & Hawk that a woman should own, it would be a rivière. A rivière is a true classic and is a signature of Larkspur & Hawk. This silhouette can be worn day and night and will never go out of style. There is nothing prettier than a sparkling river of stones around one’s neck, and it needn’t be locked away for only special occasions. This is one of the reasons that I wear them with any outfit, from casual to formal.

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The truth is that my components are true to the period, although I have occasionally been seen hand-painting my own foils as prototypes to see how various color combinations might work. One of the joys of my work is being free to use a wide variety of stones and metals, including diamonds, garnets, citrines, and quartzes. I use gold of varying purities and silver, whether oxidized or dipped. All of these combine to make our overall palette. My foils themselves are amazing, and are both smooth and textured.

The inspiration for Larkspur & Hawk primarily comes from 18th century Europe, but also from my own travel and personal observations. The color combinations I select and certain silhouettes that I create are influenced by my own experiences, whether through first-hand travel, academic study, or reading. One collection was inspired by a trip that I took with my family to the island of Corsica. The incredible blues of the water and the earthy tones of the roofs made such an impression that these colors became the basis for a collection. Even though I am from the United States, I do not consider Larkspur & Hawk items quintessentially American since the designs have their roots in Georgian England, continental Europe, and even the Ottoman Empire. We are lucky to have clients and friends around the world, and even luckier that on occasion we can travel to meet them, which in turn, provides additional inspiration for future collections. I am often instructing my husband to snap pictures of compelling sights that I can use for future sketching sessions.

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I recently returned from a trip to Barcelona where I was meeting with one of my newest clients Montse Esteve, an exquisite estate jewelry showroom. The energy of that city was incredible and contagious, and the beauty found wherever you look was compelling and inspiring. Without giving anything away, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a capsule collection based upon my sketches made during that trip. I also have many fond memories of visiting the grand palaces of Europe, such as Versailles.

I am thrilled that our line is equally beautiful on an 18 year old as it is on an 80 year old, which is something of which we are quite proud. These different women surely wear our pieces uniquely and they have a different look and impact on each woman. Larkspur & Hawk jewelry collectors are stylish and confident, but are not afraid to try something new, whether it is color, size, or shape. In addition to finding a piece that won’t be found anywhere else, our customer might also sense something reminiscent of the past through our work. Larkspur & Hawk items frequently evoke memories of a favorite relative, as we combine fashionable fine-jewelry with the sentimentality of old-world techniques and craftsmanship.

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Our customer feels great when she wears our designs because they bring out her beauty and mesh with her personal style without overpowering it. We also have many customers buying for their friends and loved ones, which is a great compliment for Larkspur & Hawk. I like to believe that what we are creating at Larkspur & Hawk what could be happily defined as ‘heirlooms of the future.’

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The lessons I have learned are so many that listing them would fill this entire interview! I think that the simplest and probably the most relevant lesson I have learned from Larkspur & Hawk is that in the design business it is best to be one’s self. Design is a personal expression, and being genuine is at the heart of a credible brand. Honesty can’t be faked, and a design aesthetic built on anything but a pure representation of the designer’s taste would be a poor business foundation. A related lesson is something that seems like common sense; a woman working in this business should design what she would like to wear, not some conception of what a customer or undefined market might buy.

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I have also learned that I can almost always know what piece of jewelry a woman is drawn to because her eyes start to smile. I also can tell when someone is not comfortable in something, even if I personally think it looks great. A woman has to select jewelry that suits her and that she will feel special wearing without feeling self-conscious.

My favorite moment was seeing the radiance of my first piece, which was almost magical. Not only was I captivated by the natural brilliance of the stone combined with colored foil, I also simultaneously realized that before my very eyes was proof that if you can imagine something you can create it.” -Emily Satloff of Larkspur & Hawk

Photography by Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set