Jewelry designer Catherine Angiel’s collections have become must haves for A-List celebrities and New York’s creme-de-la-creme. How did a blue collar kid, a rock and roll drummer from Flushing, Queens, become synonymous with a luxury product like jewelry? Starting without any financial backing or industry connections how did she become a nationally known designer? In this episode of Women on Top, we see how Catherine rewrote all the rules.
A natural born designer, as a child Catherine redesigned costume jewelry from gumball machines. In high school, to help support her family, she worked for a neighborhood jeweler. She wanted to design but the jeweler told her women’s hands weren’t strong enough to make jewelry. One day, he called in sick and Catherine took a chance to create her first piece. The client loved her necklace with dangling gems, and it became her first sale. She was only 15. When she was 18, Catherine’s parents discovered she was gay. Her family was angry and confused and so Catherine decided she had to leave home to be true to herself.
Completely self taught, Catherine took any job she could to learn about the business. At the time, women did not design jewelry; they stayed in sales. Few designers owned their own boutiques, but Catherine broke through those barriers. She scrounged money for the tools and costly materials for her own pieces. She pushed her way into the Hollywood studios to become Hollywood’s go-to jewelry designer. Having made her name, she moved back home with her parents to save money to launch her own line. In 1993, she opened her own boutique which became a Manhattan icon. Catherine refuses to follow conventional wisdom. She invented and designed the first commitment rings for same sex marriages. Her latest collection, Dangerous, is a tattoo-inspired collection of black and white diamonds. Catherine insists on pushing the envelope in her designs and her life.