Angela Cummings is one of the most renowned jewelry designers of the 20th and 21st centuries and, along with Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger, and Elsa Peretti, one of the most innovative designers associated with Tiffany & Co.
Born in Austria in 1944, Cummings’s family moved to the United States when she was three years old. She later returned to Europe to study at the Art Academy in Perugia, Italy, and at the Zeichenakademie in Germany where she graduated with a degree in goldsmithing and gemology. A gifted metalsmith and designer, she returned to the United States after honing her skills in Europe and began working for Tiffany & Co. in 1967. Just eight years later, Cummings became the first female designer to have her own self-named jewelry collection with the company. Her graceful, sculptural designs were enormously successful; in 1982 alone they accounted for over 45,000 sales with a total revenue of about $10 million.
At Tiffany, she became renowned for the way she processed 18-carat gold, platinum, and silver, combining them with precious stones and juxtaposing them with unexpected materials such as wood. Cummings also experimented with classical techniques like damascene, an inlay of precious metals with iron. Nature inspired all of her creations, some of the most famous being a gold-and-diamond spider web necklace, an 18-karat gold crocodile bracelet, and a $1.5 million geometric emerald and diamond necklace. One of her bestselling pieces was a lifelike rose gold petal necklace and earring set, and she also designed more affordable works in sterling silver. In 1984, Cummings parted ways with Tiffany & Co. to found Angela Cummings Inc. with her husband, providing her an opportunity to truly expand her design horizons.
Cummings swiftly began working in an even wider range of materials, especially sterling silver, as she had not been allowed to sign her silver works at Tiffany. Within a year, she partnered with Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue and she would go on to do so with Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue as well. Cummings’ jewelry designs were astounding in their diversity and ranged from organic to abstract to geometric, but were united by their sculptural qualities and extraordinary craftsmanship. Her business expanded to tableware, accessories, and watches, and she also partnered with QVC to reach a broader range of consumers at a more approachable price point.
In 2003, Cummings closed her business and her department store boutiques, moving to Utah to spend time with her family. However, ten years later, she reemerged to collaborate with pearl specialists Assael for whom she designed 25 spectacular pieces of cultured pearl and diamond jewelry set in platinum and gold. Over the course of her career, Cummings has left an indelible mark on the world of jewelry and her creations are beloved by discerning collectors across the globe.
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