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World According To…

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
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Suzanne Syz has always had an eye for things that sparkle. From her early days as an interior designer to her extensive art collection and eponymous jewelry line, the Swiss-born Syz knows exactly what captivates people and always has. Fifteen years ago, her career got a movie-worthy kick start when film icon Elizabeth Taylor noticed Syz wearing a homemade turquoise necklace

and immediately asked to buy it. Now, the artist-cum-designer’s work can be found adorning royaltyboth of the Hollywood and actual varietythanks to her signature fusion of classic jewelry design and contemporary art. The influence of her art background has become her calling card, something that’s explored in her Assouline book, Suzanne Syz: Art Jewels.  Here, we talk to Syz about her life, career journey, and the things she’s learned along the way.

What’s your relationship to New York?
New York is for me a second home. I lived there in the early ‘80s, which was a time of extensive creativity and freedom. I had the chance to be close to Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and we had some great times. Those moments really inspired me later in my life and creations.

What’s your earliest New York memory?
The song “Killing Me Softly” playing in the elevator when I visited the City for the first time with my father as a child.

What’s your present state of mind?
I am perfectly happy and living the freedom I love.

What’s the coolest thing in your apartment right now?
A sculpture by Isa Genzken that was at the MoMA last year for a retrospective on her work.

What’s your biggest extravagance?
My “time out”—long walks in Tuscany with my four dogs: a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a Belgian Shepherd and two Lakeland Terriers from Scotland.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

Name a book that changed your life.
The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas L. Friedman.

Who is your favorite dinner companion?
My two sons!

What’s your signature drink?
Sex on the Beach cocktail. I’ve even named a ring in enamel and
fancy-colored diamonds after it.

What do you collect?
I’ve been collecting. Paintings, sculptures, installations, photography—everything contemporary. Some that are powerful, and even some that are disturbing. I collect young artists and also more
established ones, from Elaine Sturtevant to Brent Wadden.

Who is the most interesting New Yorker you know?
Charles Ryskamp, who passed away. He was director of the Morgan Library & Museum and then the famous Frick collection. He was my mentor in old master drawings. I’ve learned a lot with him and missing our long dinners with wonderful discussions on our favorite old master drawings and our love for the arts. An amazing friend! Nowadays, I love to share moments with some of my clients and friends in NYC. A mother and daughter who are the real tastemakers of NYC and who understand the work I do—they know who they are!

What piece of jewelry can you not live without?
A little heart-shaped diamond that belonged to my grandmother. I always keep it with me.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I’m already grown up, and want to stay the way I am: free, happy, doing what I love and making other people happy with my designs—they’re one-of-a-kind, just like women.
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