From stocks to rocks
By Karen Tina Harrison
Special to amNewYork
The big career switch:
From stock trader to jewelry designer
Who pulled it off?
Emily Armenta, 37, a former trader at Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley, owns Armenta, a fine jewelry line sold at 75 stores including Takashimaya and neimanmarcus.com.How did you go from earnings to earrings?
Finance was exciting and eye-opening. But Ive made my own jewelry since childhood. When I went for my MBA a few years ago and had to create a fictitious company, of course I came up with a jewelry business. I designed 50 samples and sold them to a store. Armenta was up and running.
What is your job like?
At first I wore every hat. But I hired great people to run sales, marketing and finance, so now I focus on design. I do a lot of research, brainstorming, sketching and inspecting stones. And I travel to see big buyers and run trunk shows in stores.
What makes for a successful jewelry designer?
You must be innately creative and competitive. You need to know the jewelry industry and who your customer is. Then you have to consistently give her something different me-toos dont last. My heritage is Spanish, and my designs are inspired by classic, bold Spanish pieces. Jewelry people share a bond. We love beautiful things!
How is the pay?
I didnt draw a salary my first two years. But if your jewelry hits a nerve and you stay committed to quality and innovation, youll do fine. If youre bought out by a bigger company, youll get a windfall and possibly stay on as chief designer.
What else is there to know?
When I see mothers and daughters buying my designs, I realize Im in the heirloom business. And it is just exhilarating when Halle Berry wears your ring on the cover of In Style magazine.
Jewelry maven Emily Armenta once worked the trading floor. (Phil Bayliss)