This trove, valued at almost half a million dollars, was owned by jeweler David Yurman, co-founder with his wife, Sybil, of the world-renowned David Yurman brand. The stones, which Yurman hand-selected during his travels throughout his career, reflect his penchant for big statement pieces rich with facets. But he never found a use for them in his designs and donated them to FIT in 2016.
“A lot of these are from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s,” says Michael Coan, assistant professor of Jewelry Design, and one of three gemologists in the department. “They never made it to the store. But that doesn’t make them any less beautiful.”
Coan and other faculty members have reserved some of these stones as teaching tools in gemology classes, but most are available for student projects. Lina Krakue, Jewelry Design ’17, used strands of faceted lapis lazuli and citrine in her final project, a massive statement necklace inspired by collars worn by the Maasai and the ancient Egyptians.
Originally, she had envisioned a smaller piece, partly to keep it within her budget, but Coan encouraged her to use more of the Yurman collection for maximum impact. Mainly on the strength of that necklace, Krakue won the Next Generation Award for Jewelry Design, sponsored and judged by the Accessories Council.
“Giving us these stones was a big investment in our students,” Coan says.