As B&W Jewels, New York-based sisters Beatrix and Wilma create unique jewellery using rare and exceptional stones
B&W Jewels specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind jewellery that captivates the imagination. “Each extraordinary piece speaks to wearer and observer alike of flawless craftsmanship and limitless inspiration,” says Wilma Aschendorf, one of the founders of the New York City-based company. “Such artistry rests in the ability to capture beauty and transform it into something tangible, something expressive. It all tells a story, whether modern and daring or reminiscent of the sophistication of a bygone era. It is statement jewellery, and it does not go unnoticed.”
Wilma and her fellow founder Beatrix Jessner are the eponymous B and W of the firm’s title who have been designing jewellery since the early 2000s. Coming from a jewellery-manufacturing family in Germany, the sisters acquired a deep appreciation for fine jewellery and gemstones, evidenced today in the characteristic nature of their designs. They source fine diamonds, Colombian emeralds, and rare, unheated, natural sapphires and rubies, as well as a multitude of other precious stones, seeking out those that are distinctive in size and shape. These exceptional stones then dictate the composition of every piece, conceptualized in such a way as to best showcase their splendour in concert with the whole. This is the mark of B&W Jewels.
“Our great strength is our family reputation and that is why we’re taking a different approach as business is changing,” says Beatrix. “Our work is well known to major brands and regarded as the very top of the market in workmanship and design. Now we’re responding to our customers by supplying jewellery direct to them and it’s very exciting to see the response.”
The sisters bring different but equally vital strengths to B&W Jewels, with Beatrix designing the unique pieces that showcase the stunning, natural stones that Wilma sources. It’s a huge challenge to source matching stones, yet Wilma clearly thrives on this quest. “I go across the world to find the right stones and the results are absolutely gorgeous,” she says. “Sometimes it’s hard for people to grasp how labour intensive it is to produce jewellery that is unique, such as a sapphire necklace with 10 or 11 stones. I started with one beautiful stone and it then took me two years to find matching, unheated sapphires, all as natural as the earth made them, and Beatrix designed the perfect setting for them.”
B&W Jewels has a very special reputation of offering unique or very rare pieces, with meticulous work going into the finished product. “It’s classic with an updated twist,” says Beatrix. “What distinguishes us from other jewellery designers is that rarity – we cannot replicate our pieces because of how special the stones are. Our customers know this and that’s why they come to us – though occasionally they’ll forget! We made a stunning ruby and diamond necklace that was in our catalogue and when a customer realized it had been sold they asked me to make another and I had to tell them I couldn’t, because the stones were so rare.”
Dealing directly with customers – albeit by appointment only – has given the sisters a much stronger insight into their clientele. “We have families we know well who have been customers for years, who have marked every special occasion with our jewellery,” says Wilma. “Sometimes we know only a little about where our jewellery goes, maybe to the Middle East, a prince in Dubai or a wealthy Texan, yet we always know it’s to someone who shares our passion for stunning, one-of-a-kind jewellery.”