How does one start a high jewelry consulting firm, nary of pretention? Ask Laurel Pantin and Victoria Lampley.
The former InStyle magazine style director and public relations executive, respectively, have marked one year in business for their advisory firm The Stax and have already commissioned a number of significant custom designs. Among them, there’s an Asscher-cut yellow diamond engagement ring by Taffin, a faceted emerald ring by Prounis and a diamond and gold cuff by Belperron. The company is becoming something of a friendly ambassador and tour guide for Millennials just starting out in their high jewelry collecting journeys.
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“We wanted to do something that felt inviting to anyone at any budget. We are both collectors and wanted to do something that spoke to both our styles. We layer more affordable fashion jewelry with more collectible pieces, and wanted to guide people through that,” said Lampley, who started the company as a constructive way to channel grief after the loss of her mother.
Initially The Stax was founded as an intermediary that would link jewelers with consumers. Acting as a matchmaker and facilitator, they meet with clients and suggest jewelers that speak to their vision and needs. The duo also takes much of the legwork out of projects like custom engagement ring commissions by helping guide the design process and timelines while also handling the necessary grunt work correspondence. If a client wants an off-the-rack special piece but isn’t sure where or how to get it, Lampley and Pantin can help, too.
As Pantin said: “There is a little bit of a barrier and people appreciate someone else dealing with the minutiae of a project. We advise on the designs and focus on the style you want. We help them edit down that process on both ends — for both the designer and client. We save a lot of back and forth and provide handholding on both ends. It facilitates higher confidence that the person will love what they get.” The duo takes a commission on each project facilitated.
Courtesy/Taffin & The Stax
As part of her mission, Lampley is also eager to get age-old labels in front of young collectors. “I want to shine a light on heritage brands that feel like they’ve been lost in the new world of d-to-c jewelry. There is a craftsmanship and history for so many of these jewelers that have been lost in the model of Instagram,” she said.
Since its founding The Stax has grown its purview. It has an editorial component, mainly based on Instagram, in which chic women share their personal jewelry collections to a voyeuristic, entertaining effect. This authentic, off-the-cuff approach to fine jewelry curation bucks industry norms, in which jewelry is often pictured in a sanitized, stuffy way.
“Originally our Instagram was meant to show a certain level of aesthetic and then it became more about original content like our franchise, ‘Show us your Stax.’ Since then we have started spotlighting other jewelers, which has led some jewelers to come to us, asking us to advise them,” Lampley said.
Conveniently The Stax finds itself growing at a time when jewelry is experiencing new popularity among younger shoppers — many of whom are now prioritizing jewelry purchases over other accessories categories like shoes and handbags.
Pantin doesn’t see the trend slowing anytime soon. “A lot of jewelers said that last year was their best year ever in terms of volume; they were selling a lot of jewelry over the pandemic. I think people weren’t investing in bags and shoes to wear everyday but now this idea of permanence with jewelry has stuck. I don’t see it slowing down — the appetite is still strong. It may be a tiny bit softer than 2020 or 2021 but I think, generally, people are more attuned to fine jewelry than ever before,” she said.
While Lampley oversees day-to-day business and spearheads the growth of the company, Pantin — who is also the fashion director at large for Austin, Texas, boutique ByGeorge — acts as something of a creative adviser to help with editorial and marketing projects.
In April, The Stax got a serious badge of legitimacy when Lampley spearheaded a women’s jewelry design exhibition at Sotheby’s Palm Beach. It included about 100 designs from jewelers including Daniella Villegas, Prounis and Carolina Bucci with a portion of proceeds benefiting Mother Lovers, a nonprofit that helps with the maternal health crisis in the U.S.
But beyond doing good, the initiative pushed The Stax further into the jewelry industry spotlight. “After that, a lot of jewelers came to us asking us to work with them on everything from best editorial practices to styling look book campaigns and branded content. It’s happening organically and we have to figure it out. We want to remain as diplomatic as possible and figure out how to take clients on,” Lampley said.
The Stax will
cohost another event with Sotheby’s in East Hampton, New York, this summer to showcase the work of Solange Azagury-Partridge. There is also a forthcoming launch at the Alex Eagle boutique in London to celebrate a new earring collection by Nina Runsdorf, as well as initiatives for NYC Jewelry Week in November.
Lampley said it’s a sign of many good things to come: “There’s room at The Stax for growth, we have so much going on — it’s baptism by fire. We are figuring out what our team will look like — it’s an exciting time.”