Entering Eli Halili’s intimate showroom on Mott Street is like being transported into another era. Cabinets are curated with the jeweler’s one-of-a-kind pieces, and shelves are lined with artfully placed velvet boxes, old books, and relics. Down a candlelit hall lies Halili’s studio, where a team of master artisans is hard at work. Their mood boards and mannequins display inspiration for the latest collections, and a garden through the back door brings a touch of nature to the space.
When he isn’t working from his SoHo studio, Halili is traveling the world, sourcing unique artifacts to use for his eponymous jewelry line. Launched in 2010, the brand is inspired by the rich history of Israel, his homeland. His father is a collector himself, which sparked Halili’s desire to create jewelry from an early age. His necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings mix old techniques with contemporary design and are handcrafted with ancient coins, 22- and 24-karat yellow gold, and intricately hand-cut stones. The concept of wearing an authentic piece of history seems to be working, as Halili has amassed a large celebrity following over the years, including the brand’s muse, model and musician Lucky Blue Smith.
“My pieces are rich yet very simple. Those who appreciate the jewelry love that it’s unique, one of a kind, and made here in New York City,” Halili explains. His passion for the craft is evidenced by the fact that nothing is machine manufactured. Each piece is meticulously sculpted, and the stones are hand selected by the jeweler himself to ensure high quality.
For his Spring 2019 collection, Halili incorporates deep lapis blues, sapphires, and gold beadwork inspired by the Bedouin people of Israel. By honoring these old traditions, he makes each piece extra special, designed to become modern heirlooms for the wearer. “Even though we’ll use a flawless diamond, I’ll give it a little treatment, so it looks as if the stone was just uncovered,” he says. “That’s the true feel of the jewelry and my aesthetic.”
As for what’s next, Halili hopes to launch another big campaign or collaboration while always creating beautiful pieces infused with a sense of discovery. “Really hard work and attention to detail is key,” he says. “I’m very hands on with what I do, and I just love it.”
One thing that will always remain consistent is Halili’s commitment to offering collections that are inclusive of all customers. That’s what makes Smith’s epicene appeal the perfect fit for the brand. “The pieces aren’t too masculine or feminine,” Halili says. “[Lucky and I] have a great connection, and it helps that he wears the jewelry beautifully, but his androgynous look really resonates with anyone,” he shares. “I’ve also found that, after creating engagement rings, women were just buying them as fun cocktail rings, too.” Designing collections suitable for any crowd or occasion doesn’t just make Halili happy—it means stepping into his studio is always meant to feel like home.