Herkimer Diamonds make their way to the Duchess of Sussex

Rings, bracelet, earrings worn at Princess Eugenie's wedding
The Duchess of Sussex wearing Herkimer Diamonds rings, bracelet and earrings. Top right: Students tour Herkimer Diamond Mines.
The Duchess of Sussex wearing Herkimer Diamonds rings, bracelet and earrings. Top right: Students tour Herkimer Diamond Mines.

The Duchess of Sussex, formerly known as Meghan Markle, shined a light on upstate New York last Friday with her accessories.  

While attending the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, Meghan was seen wearing a gold bracelet, four rings and a pair of earrings, all with Herkimer Diamonds. Especially with her recent pregnancy announcement, people are watching what the mom-to-be wears more closely than ever. 

It’s made for a whirlwind week for Renee Scialdo-Shevat, co-owner of the Herkimer Diamond Mines in Herkimer County (about 65 miles west of Schenectady). Her family has run the mines since 1979, opening it up for commercial use as well as tourists. Every year, people come from all over to learn about the mining process and do some mining of their own. After a fire in 2017, that destroyed their activity center, gem store and museum, Herkimer Diamond Mines rebuilt and opened a Miner’s Village. 

This week, she’s gotten a nearly overwhelming number of calls from designers and clients hoping to work with them, as well as national media like People magazine.

The jewelry that started all the hubbub was created by Pippa Small, a designer based in the United Kingdom. Her designs are elegant, with a hand-crafted touch that makes each piece seem unique. Small’s aesthetic works with Herkimer diamonds, which have an organic and uncut look to them. The bracelet, four rings and pair of earrings that the Duchess wore were all from Small’s latest Herkimer Diamonds collection, which is made with 18 karat gold.

The designer told People magazine, “She wore quite a few rings, which was really great to see, especially with her stacking them all up like she did – I just love the way she put it all together.”

“We’ve worked with the designer for years,” Scialdo-Shevat said. 

The pieces that Meghan wore have been quite popular online and others from Small’s collections are selling quickly. The designer has already placed another order of Herkimer Diamonds. While they usually shut the mines down in November, Scialdo-Shevat said they’ll be keeping them open a bit longer this year, as commercial requests increase. 

The story and all the global media attention has been a boost to the local economy and to morale, especially given the political climate. It’s made people look past all that according to Schialdo-Shevat. 

“What I’m most satisfied with is [Meghan’s] understanding of the lore of the Herkimer Diamond,” Scialdo-Shevat said. 

That’s quite important to Scialdo-Shevat, as she works to keep that lore going each day. 

“This little stone is over 500 million years old,” she said. Herkimer Diamonds are technically double-terminated quartz crystal, not diamonds. It sets them apart from the classic cut look of diamonds and it’s what makes designers and celebrities alike drawn to them.

“We’ve had jewelry [spotted] on celebrities before,” Scialdo-Shevat said. 

They’ve also partnered with Apple Music and Swedish jewelry designer Efva Attling to create a Beatles-inspired line of jewelry, which they are considering doing again. 

According to Scialdo-Shevat, the Herkimer Diamond Mines work with over 60 jewelry designers all over the world, so the diamonds go far afield from where they begin in the mines in Herkimer County. 

But having Meghan wear Herkimer Diamonds has been exciting, said Scialdo-Shevat, because of what the Duchess represents; an American with a conscience who acts with grace and upholds common decency. 

“She’s a force,” Scialdo-Shevat said.  

Categories: Life and Arts

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