Elena Kriegner spent her childhood in the sleepy Austrian
country village of Winklpoint, which had about 10 houses
and where "the streets had no name."
In Winklpoint no one had or wore jewelry. But that didn't daunt
the entrepreneurial Elena, who at age 6 declared to her family: "I
want to be a jewelry maker."
The choice came as a surprise, but in the following years her
family watched her make jewelry. Her creations were often
improvised; she once used flash bulbs from the family camera as
As a teenager, Elena's determination to follow her calling led
her to leave her tiny hometown and family to attend a school 120
"It was hard, but for me there was no way back," Elena says.
"And it made me strong."
Indeed it did. Elena passed an entrance exam at one of
Europe's top jewelry design schools where she trained as a bench
jeweler and eventually became a goldsmith. After two more years of
study, she was awarded a "master jewelry maker" degree.
Whether she is in her native Austria, sailing in the Caribbean,
or digging for special gemstones in New York's diamond district,
Elena Kriegner is always looking for something different.
A lover of technical challenges, Elena enjoys nothing more than
coming up with a new way to make jewelry more versatile.
"As I traveled around, I realized how important it is to be
flexible. Not only in your mindset, but also in design," Elena
says. "I wanted my jewelry designs to be as versatile as possible
yet still beautiful."
While there's no denying her jewelry creations are clean,
contemporary and wearable, they are also often interchangeable,
featuring the ability to convert one piece into a different
silhouette, or exchange gems within a piece-ready to adapt to the
"If a piece was 'only a ring,' it wasn't enough," Elena says.
"It comes back to how I grew up. Things, including jewelry, needed
to be practical."
Elena also specializes in enhancing gemstones with unusual
cuts and settings that highlight the brilliance of their
"Gemstones are like the colors of life," she says. "And color
makes your life more beautiful."
Elena set up her first business in her hometown in Austria where
she created one-of-a-kind jewelry for private clients.
"I knew that I wasn't suited for traditional jewelry. I
have my own ideas about jewelry and how to express myself," Elena
Her derring-do led Elena to explore beyond Austria. She traveled
to South Africa to work with expert gem cutters. She taught jewelry
design in Greece.
Soon her wanderlust took her on an adventure of a lifetime:
circumnavigating the globe with a friend aboard a 32-foot sailboat.
After crossing the Atlantic Ocean and stopping along the Caribbean,
she decided to sail till New York City to visit her sister.
She ended up staying a few months, which cemented her love for
American culture. For several years, she summered in New York and
continued to sail the rest of the year until, in 2007, she moved to
the United States full-time.
Love the simple lines of Prada. I'm not too much into florals.
And Jean Paul Gaultier.
They've developed their own styles so they don't necessarily
follow what is "the latest." They pick special pieces that make a
The Firework earrings in any color, whatever suits your
personality or mood. They look amazing from across the room.
My new Michael Kors trench coat that I bought when it was really
hot and I couldn't wear it yet.
I'll be going sailing around Long Island. Also, Austria for my
mom's 70th birthday, and the Caribbean for Christmas.
A smoky quartz tusk pendant I designed.
I'd have to say the Spectra
earrings. They go
with everything all year around.
Madonna. Especially in her early years, when she created her own
sense of style.
Airline miles. I love to travel.
I couldn't name a particular person. What I find most
fascinating is someone who follows her own style and is comfortable
with it, no matter what the fashion.
A person who is self-assured, has a sophisticated style and
doesn't need a status name to be confident in herself.
If you come from a small town where no one really wore jewelry,
and your dream in life was to be a jewelry designer, then your
imagination must come into play. As a child growing up in a tiny
town in Austria, Elena Kriegner started making jewelry
using paper clips and camera bulbs. That sense of ingenuity
and resourcefulness paid off later when, as a seasoned master
jeweler, Elena came up with her concept of interchangeable jewelry:
sterling silver and gemstone pieces that can be worn as pendants,
earrings or rings. It's the perfect solution for the modern
woman who wants a change of jewelry, whether she's travelling or
just matching her latest outfit.
Shop this collection
When talking about her Spectra collection, which features
gemstones set in shiny sterling silver, designer Elena Kriegner
brings up a good point: bigger is better, but often has a bigger
price. Not so with Spectra. Elena uses clear, bright gemstones that
are wall-set (no prongs) and secured in place with mirror-like
sterling silver that reflects their color, making them appear even
larger than their actual size. "I have had women tell me that
people approach them from the other side of the room because they
couldn't believe the color," Elena says. That's why these crowd
pleasers are such a hit.
Venus, the goddess of love, is long been connected with pearls,
and no wonder, they both are "born from the sea." But in the
creative mind of designer Elena Kriegner, the pure forms of the
pearls remain whole, undrilled and perfect. By using her keen know
how for creating interchangeable jewelry, Elena's Venus collection
has rings and earrings that hold the whole pearl secure and
elegantly. Like her other interchangeable collections, the Venus
pieces can be changed and played with with ease, thanks to Elena's
fetes of jewelry engineering.
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