These are the words I live by, “Jewelry is the most intimate thing we wear. It’s a direct reflection of ourselves, our history and our accomplishments. It empowers us through our darkest days and can encapsulate any memory or milestone into a tangible medium.”

Editor of NYC Jewelry Week, Nicholas Hyatt, sitting in front of a plant dressed in all white.
Nicholas Hyatt, Editor NYC Jewelry Week

I first fell in love with the jewelry industry during the summer of 2014. As a newly minted fashion graduate, I felt unsure of my direction, but a government program that sent college students abroad to gain international experience would rescue me. So I spent two months in the small village of Alcamo, Sicily, interning at several businesses, the last of which was a fine jeweler, Malafimmina. An all-women-run firm, their passion and excitement for what they created glowed hotter than the gold they sculpted, and I knew I was home.

Returning to Toronto, I pursued my Gemological license, and shortly after graduating, I entered the field working for a high jeweler. But, within a year, I was burnt out and left the jewelry industry entirely, thinking maybe it wasn’t for me. Then one day, my gut told me I had to get back in the game. So, I applied to Canada’s oldest Pawnbroker, McTamney’s, an institution for over 160 years, and this is where my real education would take place. While working full-time, hundreds of years worth of jewelry history passed through my hands. My surroundings led me to pursue my Master Valuer certification, allowing me to decypher a jewel’s artistic attributes further and judge its monetary value. That is, until a client came in one day to sell a small assortment of brooches and rings.

© Nicholas Hyatt

Inspecting the tray of jewels, I noted that all the pieces were unsigned, but exceptional, and dated from the mid-19th century to the late-20’s. Nevertheless, I felt there was a semblance of a collection and that each jewel was loosely tied to the next, so I got up the courage to ask if there was a backstory. With a soft smile, the client shared that they had inherited the pieces from their grandmother, who had recently passed. They kept most of the jewelry, but had decided to part with this selection as it wasn’t their style. I commented on how beautiful the pieces were and mentioned that I’d make sure they found their next worthy custodian safely… it was then they shared the more profound story; using the jewelry, their ancestors set up a new life abroad after escaping Germany in 1937. I was speechless.

Suddenly these scintillating and seemingly innocent pieces of jewelry became heavy with historical importance, and the thought of assigning a price to these artifacts seemed overwhelmingly blasphemous. Looking across the menagerie of jewels lining the showcases, I realized that every piece of jewelry has a history, a story, a human element that, left untold, becomes lost to the sands of time. I’ve never been able to look at a piece of jewelry the same way since.

A while later, I founded my blog and Instagram, Ping Pong Ring, the very name of which is rooted in one of my all-time favourite jewelry stories. While at first, I wasn’t sure of my intentions, like a bloodhound, I eventually found my path and couldn’t get off it; I pursued the human story of jewelry. I attempted to understand the “hows” and “whys” of people making jewelry. The more I dug, the more questions I was left with. How did you get into this? What happened to that technique? Who’s actually mining the gold? Are these sunglasses ethical? Where is everyone, and why aren’t we having the hard conversations?

My question list still grows daily.

© Nicholas Hyatt

Taking on this role is something that I don’t take lightly. Our industry and society are standing at a precipice of unfathomable change, and right now, we can dictate and mould the future. But we have to speak up and act.

Standing up for equal representation and providing authentic opportunities for marginalized communities, having conversations, asking (and answering) tough questions about ethically sourced materials and designs, coming face to face with the detriments of mass consumerism, the rise of AI-assisted design and the heartbreaking loss of crucial jewelry techniques…these are just a few of the many challenging topics we face.

However, while there will be many difficult discussions ahead, we have to remember how exciting it is to have the opportunity to forge the future of the jewelry industry that everyone can enjoy. After all, NYC Jewelry Week is where change and trends are born.