Some of the funnest women I know are jewelry designers and Brooke Garber Neidich of Sidney Garber–a fine jewelry line her father founded in Chicago 75 years ago, is one of my favorite. I have known Brooke now for years and am a fan of her beautiful jewelry, which is covetable and timeless, (I interviewed her before here). Brooke is like your BFF who likes to share a bit of gossip (never mean, mind you), the latest purchase she bought (from Alaia to Uniqlo), styling tips, places to visit when you’re traveling, plus she is a philanthropic powerhouse and is a trustee at the Whitney Museum of Art and Lincoln Center Theatre and the Co-Founder of the Child/Mind Institute, one of the institutions to which she donates all her profits from the jewelry. I’m not the only one in her fan club. Here, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Sidney Garber, and because I knew she would have the right answers to some of my pressing questions, is her interview.
What are your tips for giving jewelry as a holiday gift?
Shopping for jewelry can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re giving it as a gift. The best approach is to look at what the intended recipient wears and don’t stray too far from that. If she doesn’t wear dangling earrings, consider button earrings. If she likes delicate pieces, don’t try to push her into something bold. If she exclusively wears yellow gold, don’t give her white gold. Being attentive really makes a difference.
Go window shopping with the recipient and listen to what she responds to.
Consider a beautiful chain with a few meaningful charms that you add to over time. Everyone loves the thought that goes into something personal.
Then, find a store where you’re comfortable with a salesperson who makes you feel at ease and has a thoughtful return policy.
Best way to you drop hints for clueless partners?
You could say to your partner, “Honey, have you seen my diamond rope necklaces? Oh wait, I don’t have any diamond rope necklaces.”
At a party, you could compliment someone’s jewelry within the earshot of your partner. And then, when you come home and review the evening, say, “Did you see Brooke’s necklace? Wow!”
You could go for a strategic walk by your favorite jewelry store and linger by the window.
Some clueless partners are relieved to find out what to give, so you could even be a little more direct, saying something like, “I’ve always wanted a big gold bracelet.” Or “Did you see those earrings Tom gave Carey?”
Sidney Garber keeps wish lists for our clients. So all they have to say to their partner is, “Call Sidney Garber. They know everything.” It works perfectly.
Sidney Garber is celebrating its 75thanniversary. What does that mean to you? How has the company changed from being under your father’s guidance to yours? What are you doing to celebrate?
The business is just a bit older than I am so it has always been a part of me, and I am incredibly proud that it will continue past its 75th anniversary. This was a business with humble beginnings but by my late teens, my early twenties, it had become quite chic. I left Chicago and the business for years while I raised my family. When I visited I somehow always ended up in the store behind the counter.
When I visited in December of 2011, I was surprised to find our look had changed. My birthday is Christmas Eve and there was nothing I wanted. Without saying why, I offered to return to our factories in Europe with my father that January and again to the massive Basel Fair in April. That was the beginning, and our look started changing.
Our 75th is the first time I stopped and thought about what we have accomplished in the last 19 years since I returned to the business. I thought I was just continuing my father’s vision but really these last 19 years are very much my own vision. I am quite proud of the look and feel of our stores and jewelry. Though my style is deeply rooted in my father’s aesthetic, I am of a different time. I am a woman who wears jewelry, who has always worn jewelry. I believe in my style, my sense of proportion, my desire for comfort, for ease and I love the luxury of beautifully made pieces that move gracefully and have a bit of sexiness.
I could not have done this without Susan Nicholas, who has been the president of Sidney Garber since 2013. My friend Laurent Claquin introduced us, and I am so grateful to both of them every day.
Present you’re hoping to receive this holiday and do you ever get jewelry?
I always receive jewelry! It is my favorite present. This year I have pre-shopped (and, yes, that’s a thing). I was testing our 75th-anniversary bracelets and I fell in love with them. They’re thinner than our other bracelets, they feel wonderful on and they work beautifully with other pieces. My team at Sidney Garber talked me into doing them, and I’m so glad they did!
Now I wear three on my left wrist with a vintage watch and the simple white-gold bangle my daughter engraved for me. I added a thin Collana choker to the 75th-anniversary limited-edition collection after thinking of my daughter-in-law Aliza’s style. It has become a staple; I wear it with my large zodiac charm and another classic chain wrapped twice.
My husband Daniel and I celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2021. I keep thinking of a square diamond in a chunky chevalier mounting . . . hmmmmm.
Favorite small presents you like to give:
I love our tiny diamond zodiac necklace on a thin chain. We made it in Paris in the ’70s and I have always loved it. I gave it or encouraged my sons to give it to friends, so it is on the neck of many fabulous women. I added my children’s signs to mine and have seen several other women do that as well. It rests at the throat and is something you rarely take off.
We have always cared about presentation. My father was still taking packages out of my hands and re-wrapping them when I was in my 20’s! Our simplest one is the jewel wrapped in tissue then placed in our soft suede bag with a ribbon tied at the top.
Our boxes are silk, and we carefully pleat and fold tissue around the silk box and then we place that in a fine white outer box and wrap it with our high polished grey paper and ivory ribbon. We have used that combination forever. In December we jazz it up a bit with unique ribbons, vintage tiny flowers, or sprays of berries from Hyman Hendler in New York.
Hyman Hendler is now part of East Coast Trimming, and while the store isn’t as beautiful, they have the same incredible ribbons and trim, some from Hyman’s now vintage inventory.
Where will you be spending the holidays?
St Barth! Daniel and I would always argue over Telluride or St Barth, and we used to do both. But one year I claimed these two weeks as my birthday celebration and have gotten away with it ever since! We’re in St. Barth with our children, grandchildren, and friends. There’s nothing better or easier than being together from our first cappuccino to our last quiet moment under a sky full of stars.
What comes first when you plan a holiday outfit—the jewelry or the clothes?
My clothes are definitely the backdrop for my jewelry. I can travel anywhere with only carry-on luggage, as long as I have my jewelry.
What special jewelry will you personally be pulling out for the occasion? What will you wear?
I am loving my two grey diamond Lunetta necklaces, the style that grew out of our original and still fabulous diamond ropes. The Lunetta is a larger diameter than our diamond ropes, and both are 36 inches long. I have a chic friend who layers a sapphire rope with a cognac diamond rope and a grey diamond rope. The subtlety of those colors together is extraordinary.
And I always return to my pearls, whether I wear a single 27″ inch strand that slips in and out of a silk shirt or five strands of different lengths piled on.
My usual go-to is a black Row shirt and my favorite black jeans—either velvet or black denim flares—or wide-leg pants. Sometimes I go completely crazy and wear a white silk shirt.