As a young child, Dana Bronfman was enamored with her grandmother’s jewelry — mostly Native American pieces and jewels she had picked up while traveling — that defied the notion of traditional jewelry. It was not until several years later while in college that Bronfman realized how deep her connection was to jewelry. Bronfman attended The Colorado College in Colorado Springs and planned on working in the non-profit sector where she could make a difference. A Spanish major, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Chile and Spain. While she was traveling, Bronfman found herself collecting interesting jewels on her journeys and soon realized how passionate she felt about jewelry.
One weekend, while she was in college, Bronfman visited Santa Fe, New Mexico. While she was there, she found a whole new world of fine jewelry that was contemporary and artistic. That was when Bronfman had her aha moment and realized that she wanted to be a jewelry designer. With no skills in crafting jewelry and a very strong desire to create jewelry, Bronfman found her way to the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco, where she studied to become a goldsmith. After her training at the Revere Academy, Bronfman worked for jewelers in the Bay area and in Santa Fe.
Wanting to spread her wings a bit more, Bronfman made the leap and moved to New York City. Once she got there, she became even more inspired by the aesthetic stimulation and boundless opportunities in the City and decided to start her own line. That was in October 2014; in 2017, she won the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award for fine jewelry. Her designs are informed by the energy of the desert and open space and the feeling of liberation that it creates. She also finds pieces in her collection inspiring and challenges herself to see how she can incorporate the same concept into different items. Working at the bench carving waxes and the metalsmithing process also sparks new ideas. She doesn’t follow trends, but instead makes pieces that she thinks would be fun to wear and that will help people create their own unique style. Bronfman describes her jewelry as “quietly bold.” Going back to her roots of making a difference, Bronfman is committed to using reclaimed and fair mined 18-karat gold, post-consumer and reclaimed diamonds, and ethically sourced gemstones wherever possible.
Bronfman’s jewelry has been featured in publications such as Vogue and Gem Gossip. Her jewelry can also be spotted on celebrities, including Rachel Brosnahan, Carrie Underwood, Lucy Hale and Marcia Gay Harden.
Amber Michelle: What is your design signature?
Dana Bronfman: The oculus is my most prominent motif — the circular cut open pattern found in many of my pieces. An oculus is an architectural term for a circular opening in a space. Jewelry is all about connection and the open space allows for that connection to happen. I create different layers that have positive and negative space; the metals and colors of the gems all reflect the layers of the personality of the person who wears my work.
AM: What are you currently reading?
DB: My favorite just-for-fun reading are astrology blogs. I’m a Sagittarius with Cancer rising and a moon in Leo. The three are always fighting each other. The Cancer part of me wants to live a quiet life, but the Sagittarius and Leo parts of me want accomplish a lot, be a social butterfly, take big risks and explore everything. The Cancer in me is the sensitivity of the artist. It creates space for me to connect with the creative, intuitive side of myself.
AM: What is your favorite television show?
DB: I find “Chef’s Table” on Netflix to be very inspiring. It’s really beautiful tales about chefs. The show is about the creativity and journey of the chefs. They all have great stories to tell, including the failures before their success.
AM: Do you prefer numbers or words?
DB: Definitely words. I love to write, but I don’t love numbers. I was never good at math. I love literature. When something is beautifully written, I enjoy the way it is written more than the content of what I’m reading. I wrote poetry as a kid and I appreciate when something is poetic.
AM: What do you do when you are not designing jewelry?
DB: Running my business takes up most of my time, but I love to travel, especially to places where I can spend time outside, preferably in good weather. Santa Fe is my favorite place. I know that I will live there when I’m an old lady. I also go to Colorado, San Francisco and Los Angeles to visit my family. I went to India last year and it was truly a feast for the eyes, the dream trip of a lifetime. At home in the city, I do yoga, take walks in the park and the streets, explore art museums, cafés, and restaurants.