Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Judy Price: A veritable tour de force

Judy Price at her Park Avenue home. “Jewelry is an easy metaphor. It explains a lot of things. You can tell a lot about a man or a woman from the jewelry they wear,” says the founder of the National Jewelry Institute. “Also, good jewelry has nothing to do with price. It teaches you about history.” Here, Judy has fashioned a necklace from several World War I medals festooned upon a gold necklace. Just below her left shoulder, she wears a delicate ruby reproduction of her own medal – that of the French Legion d’Honneur. “I wear it over my heart every day,” she reveals.
by Delia von Neuschatz

Judy Price does not do things by halves. The founder and president of the National Jewelry Institute (“NJI”) is on a mission to bring the same level of excitement to the world of high jewelry and watches as there is to fashion because, according to Judy, “jewelry is architecture for the body. It is a representation of a time and place and of great design.” And considering her many accomplishments, including the founding of Avenue magazine, there is no doubt that this spirited and forward looking entrepreneur, publisher, journalist, author, philanthropist and curator will do just that.

To that end, NJI has teamed up with Parsons School of Design to launch intensive week-long courses in New York and Paris. Titled The Business of Luxury/The Fine Art of High Jewelry and Timepieces, this year’s NYC program (October 17 – 20) will feature lectures and lunches hosted by luxury industry luminaries such as Mercedes Abramo, President and CEO of Cartier, North America, Graff USA President and CEO Henri Barguidjian, Stellene Vollandes, Editor-in-Chief of Town and Country, Chopard CEO Ralph Simons, Thomas Bouillonnec, President of Piaget North America and Ben Clymer, founder of leading watch website,, among others. And that’s not all. There are also visits to homes of prominent jewelry collectors like Susan Gutfreund. “Our mission is to educate people on what fine jewelry and timepieces are all about,” says Judy.
The 2015 NY graduates of The Fine Art of High Jewelry and Timepieces class.
The week will be capped by a graduation ceremony where the Dean of Parsons School of Fashion, Burak Cakmak, will present participants with a diploma. With all the luxury world heavy hitters contributing to this cohort program, it is no wonder that attendees are not limited to jewelry aficionados only. Last year, a financier enrolled because he wanted to learn “how to make [his] brand the Bulgari or Cartier of the commodities world.” Space is limited to 25 people and the time to sign up is now.
The curriculum for this year’s NYC course.
The invitation to this year’s Louvre gala. Guests are treated to a private viewing of a current exhibit at the museum – Heroes and anti-heroes, from Hercules to Darth Vader.
The excitement spills over to Paris where a course will also be offered (June 22 – 24) followed by a High Jewelry and Timepieces Awards ceremony on July 3 at the Hôtel Le Bristol. “It’s not a competition between the houses but a recognition of what is best within each house,” explains Judy. The honorees will include as many as 40 different brands including Bulgari, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Chopard, Dior and Graff.

On the following day, July 4th, a glittering gala will be held at no less an august venue than the Louvre museum. Host Committee members include Solange Azagury-Partridge, Pierre Hardy and Victoire de Castellane. Given Judy’s aim of highlighting jewelry’s place as an extension of the decorative arts, it is no coincidence that the gala precedes haute couture fashion week in Paris.

Some of the guests at the 2015 Louvre gala:
Juliette Binoche and Princesse SAS Lilly Zu Sayn Wittgenstein Berleburg. Chinese billionaire Stephen Hung and his wife, Deborah Valdez Hung.
Judy Price with Tiffany & Co. design director, Francesca Amfitheatrof (left) and jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge.
Cindy Chao and François Arpels. Susan Gutfreund.
But why hold these glamorous events in Paris and not New York, locus of both Parsons and NJI, I asked? “Because Paris is the cradle of luxury,” responds Judy. “The top jewelry and watch brands are in Europe.” The avowed Francophile knows of what she speaks for she has the distinction of being decorated as a Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur for her contributions to French culture. “It was the proudest night of my life,” reveals the Ivy League-educated author of no fewer than six books on jewelry and architecture.
Judy Price the night she was awarded the Legion d’Honneur with Dior CEO Sidney Toledano.
Judy has written four books on jewelry:
Yet being the recipient of France’s highest honor is only one of Judy’s many triumphs not least of which is the founding of Avenue magazine, glossy chronicler of café society and notable incubator of promising young writers. “In the quarter century of Mrs. Price's ownership,” wrote Randall Rothenberg in AdvertisingAge shortly after the sale of the magazine some 15 years ago, “Avenue was a molder of journalistic talent with few equals. Its alumni are a who's who of literary and visual artists” including Vanity Fair contributor Michael Shnayerson, Allure writer Joan Kron, architectural historian Christopher Gray and novelist Lisa Grunwald.
Judy with Ivana Trump in the late '80s when she was at the helm of Avenue magazine. Prior to founding Avenue, Judy had been a Time magazine business reporter for 25 years. Photo by Mary Hilliard.
Judy with Kenneth Jay Lane at the opening of Notorious & Notable: 20th Century Women of Style, one of no fewer than 15 shows mounted by the National Jewelry Institute covering a wealth of subjects including timepieces and Olympic gold. Judy, Crown Princess Marie Chantal of Greece and William Griswold, director of the Morgan Library at a 2014 gala celebrating the 10th anniversary of the National Jewelry Institute. They are standing next to a cake fashioned after John Pierpont Morgan’s jewelry catalog. As evidenced by the size of the tome, J.P. Morgan was one of the world’s most avid jewelry collectors. “The biggest jewelry collectors in the world are men, not women,” reveals Judy. “They are the biggest art collectors. They look at jewelry as art.”
A few of Judy’s favorite pieces of jewelry:
A Van Cleef & Arpels enameled gold and ruby minaudière, ca 1940.
The interior is neatly arranged with a lipstick tube, cigarette lighter, powder well and so on. “It’s too heavy to use. It’s sculpture,” declares Judy.
A vintage gold, onyx and diamond bracelet from the famous French house, Puiforcat.
A Cartier brooch from the 1920s.
A pair of contemporary diamond and spinel earclips. “The trick is to buy things that are not expensive and that you like,” advises Judy. “And, try to figure out what the next flavor of the day will be. A few years ago, no one was paying attention to spinels and you could buy them for relatively little. Now, they’ve become very popular.”
On a personal level, distinctions include being married six times – to the same man. “No, we did not renew our vows!” Judy is quick to point out. “My husband and I got married six times.” Wedding ceremonies took place in far flung locales like Mexico, Greece, Laos, India and Japan. “When you’ve been married for a long time, you’ve got to create a new life and outlook,” she explains. Ultimately, “you’ve got to have fun in life. You have to make the best of things and always look forward.”
Judy with her husband, cable TV entrepreneur and publishing executive, Peter Price. Judy and Peter created the Young Architect’s Program for the Museum of Modern Art and PS1. Currently in its 17th year, the program is an annual series of competitions recognizing emerging architects.
Judy and Peter Price at their Japanese wedding ceremony, one of their six weddings.
Up next is a jewelry class that will be offered for credit at Parsons. And will we see more jewelry on the fashion runways as Judy hopes? “Our gala ignited many of the jewelry brands to show their new haute pieces during the haute couture thereby merging the jewelry and fashion,” reveals Judy. Many would say “mission accomplished.”
For more beauty tips and information, follow Delia on Instagram: @chasingbeautywithdvn.