A gem of a guy: David Alan on the jeweler’s art
Images courtesy of David Alan Wegweiser
When David Alan Wegweiser was a teenager growing up in Rye Brook, he was always excited by Mondays.
Monday marked the day his “super-fabulous,” redheaded mother and her business partner would bring home jewelry finds from Manhattan’s Diamond District that she’d sell.
“When I was a kid, I always took to looking at her things because she and her partner would…lay everything out on the table,” he says. “I would sit at the big dining room table and play with the jewelry. I would pull aside all the really well-made pieces and say, ‘This is beautifully done, this, not so much.’ So really, jewelry was a fascination for me back then.”
After spending 20 years apprenticing with a master French jeweler and then designing custom-couture jewelry – with a stint in Stamford – the designer opened David Alan Jewelry in Manhattan in 2000. His work has been honored by De Beers and the Diamond Council and has been featured at auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
The private salon quietly designs and manufactures unique, high-end pieces for savvy, high-profile clients. David works with a tight-knit group of employees and meets one-on-one with clients to design the gems and settings of their dreams.
Much of his business, he says, begins with an eye-opening engagement ring that has clients coming back to the salon to create pieces for other significant moments in their lives. Some clients are lured by his detail-oriented, classic aesthetic, which often results in ornate, estate-style pieces with a tasteful, contemporary feel. Customers also value his careful attention to sourcing high-quality stones from dealers around the world whom he calls friends. And some husbands turn to David to know instinctively how to design and package the perfect pieces to surprise their wives.
All clients, though, seem to appreciate David’s Old World tradition of incorporating hidden luxuries meant just for the wearer, like placing one small pink diamond on a band of white diamonds or embedding a row of pavé-set gemstones on the inside of a ring. When a client walks through the door, business is instantly personal.
“I’m fascinated about how things work,” David says, remembering that childhood dining room table filled with jewelry. “I would take things apart and put them back together as soon as I could use my hands. So when I was in front of all this jewelry, more than the beauty of it, at that point I was really interested in the construction of it and how it was made. I would take all the pieces and look from the back….”
He’s grateful that his mother introduced him to the industry, having been in it herself for 30 years.
“My mom’s an amazing woman. She’s very insightful and we’re also very close,” he says, adding that his dad also accepted his son’s jewelry fixation as a kid.
“My dad was also very positive about my interest in art and things that a lot of other kids aren’t interested in.”
In the stars
With fair skin, a dark, trim beard and a calm, deliberate manner, David suggests something of the intellectual.
“I’ve never had a problem breaking out of the mold. I’m comfortable with it. I played sports with the kids and whatnot, but I was always more interested in art, drawing and making things… You know, creativity is a gift. And I believe everybody can be creative, but most people aren’t because they’re afraid of it.”
David Alan’s designs are spurred in part by his love of astronomy, architecture, art and fashion. Hanging on his wall are two of his inspirations – Chuck Close and Andy Goldsworthy. His muse is posed on his Mac desktop – his beautiful, jewelry-loving bride, Helena Grace, who inspired a forthcoming line of more affordable pieces.
David is an old soul with a strong awareness of his surroundings, both natural and man-made. His celestial interests also came from his mom.
“Luckily, my mom kind of saw in me that I had that fascination and desire to know what was going on, more than most kids maybe, and she signed me up for astronomy classes when I was really little, so I took them for years and I just fell in love,” he says, adding that with astronomy, “it’s so mind-bending how complex and beautiful it is, if you really stop to look….The connection to the natural elements we use in jewelry is huge. And the elements – the platinum and gold and stones – they’re really noble materials. They’re directly from the earth and they’re barely manipulated in their essence, but we get our hands on them and we do a far bit more than Andy Goldsworthy does….”
David also knows that while a large, bright gem is by nature beautiful, it has to speak to the customer.
“A ring with a stone has to work on the hand and on the person.”
A home grows in Brooklyn
David’s fascination with architecture played out in his and Helena’s search for a house. After a taxing hunt, they received an unusual call from a broker, got off at the wrong subway stop, trekked through a terrible rainstorm, and today are happy to call a 160-year-old converted church in Brooklyn their home. The couple loves their Westchester roots though, and does expect to return one day.
This next year, David will be focused on growing his company – redesigning his website and eyeing a move to local specialty stores where his collection can stand out in the case rather than blending into a sea of sparkles. But maintaining his private services and avoiding falling victim to trendy market demands will always be his priority.
“To me, elegance is portrayed by simple beauty, both in appearance and manner. When you see effortlessness and grace, you are experiencing true elegance. This is what I try to bring to my jewelry – uncontrived and timeless design that is ultimately beautiful and wearable.”
David Alan Jewelry is at 2 W. 47th St., Suite 402, in Manhattan. Pieces range from $3,000 to $300,000. For appointments, call (212) 382-1410. You can visit David on Facebook at davidalan or email him at David@ davidalanjewelry.com.