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The Bride's Guide Blog

Behind the Diamond: Jewelry-Making at Oscar Heyman

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Last week, a small team of Weddings staffers, myself included, had an awesome—and rare—opportunity to poke around Oscar Heyman’s NYC headquarters. A family-run business since 1912, Oscar Heyman is a charmingly old school mom-and-pop luxury jeweler, handcrafting all pieces that bear their name in their Madison Avenue workshop. During our tour, we were given a glimpse of the jewelry-making process, from the conception of a piece and its hand-drawn rendering, to having the gems certified, and on through to melting metals and setting stones. It’s largely trial-and-error, with a single necklace sometimes taking the better part of a year to complete.

The biggest highlight, of course, was being up close and personal with all of those glorious jewels, including a 43-carat, totally flawless yellow diamond. Estimated cost? A cool $20 mil. (My birthday’s in January, in case you’re wondering.)

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After watching craftsmen at work designing and setting jewelry, we were treated to a small sample of finished products. (And, yes, we pretty much tried everything on!)

1 After watching craftsmen at work designing and setting jewelry, we were treated to a small sample of finished products. (And, yes, we pretty much tried everything on!)

The designer working on this project was sketching out two different bracelet designs using star sapphires, so called for the subtle star pattern that emerges on their surface when a light is shone directly on them.

2 The designer working on this project was sketching out two different bracelet designs using star sapphires, so called for the subtle star pattern that emerges on their surface when a light is shone directly on them.

Since 1912, every single rendering of Oscar Heyman's jewelry designs has been cataloged in these old-school file cabinets.

3 Since 1912, every single rendering of Oscar Heyman's jewelry designs has been cataloged in these old-school file cabinets.

This Art Deco-y advertisement dates back to the 1920s.

4 This Art Deco-y advertisement dates back to the 1920s.

Men at work! The shop has dozens of such craftsmen, each filling a different role in putting together a jewelry piece.

5 Men at work! The shop has dozens of such craftsmen, each filling a different role in putting together a jewelry piece.

Before committing stones to a necklace (or bracelet, ring, etc.), a wax mold is made. Gems are set inside to give buyers a clearer idea of what the finished product will look like. That way, adjustments to the design can be made more easily.

6 Before committing stones to a necklace (or bracelet, ring, etc.), a wax mold is made. Gems are set inside to give buyers a clearer idea of what the finished product will look like. That way, adjustments to the design can be made more easily.

The 43-carat yellow diamond that caused more than a few gasps among our group, as modeled by deputy art director Genevieve.

7 The 43-carat yellow diamond that caused more than a few gasps among our group, as modeled by deputy art director Genevieve.

That's me, sporting super-sparkly diamond danglers.

8 That's me, sporting super-sparkly diamond danglers.

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