Jewelry designer Cynthia Rybakoff has been in the design game for approaching three decades, having spent the '80s conjuring up eye-catching statement pieces and the '90s as a corporate designer for the likes of Ralph Lauren and Tommy HIlfiger.
"My aesthetic has gone through a major transformation over the years, as my interests have changed and I've matured as a designer," says Rybakoff, who relaunched her own label just four years ago to focus on polished silver pieces with a clean, modern feel. "Since then, I've been building upon this modern classic foundation, but adding twists along the way like oxidized metals, organic stone touches, and vintage parts."
Jewelry has been a lifelong obsession of Rybakoff's, who can pinpoint its amorous origins to a moment at age 10 when she went on a play date with a friend whose mother was an artist and jewelry designer. "Eventually, after much begging, my father took me to the wholesale jewelry district in New York and bought me a few strands of African trading beads, which were all the rage."
Since then, Rybakoff has always been beading, stringing, or whittling something. "I'm extremely disciplined, and have always preferred teaching myself," she explains. "I like to look at how things are made, and spend hours figuring out the technique." Rybakoff took precisely two jewelry design courses before deciding formal training wasn't for her. "I was far more interested in inventing my own techniques for alternative materials, which weren't on the syllabus."
Much of the inspiration behind Rybakoff's current collections comes from the found objects or vintage materials themselves. "To me, they tell a story and inform the design process in an intuitive way," she explains. Because of the rareness of certain charms and components—in particular a range of vintage enamel travel and tourism charms, dubbed "On the Road"—the majority of Rybakoff's pieces are unique, or totally one-of-a-kind.
In coming seasons, Rybakoff plans to introduce a range of menswear offerings. "Men are an under-served demographic in the jewelry world," she points out. "So many men are buying my stone rings and requesting bracelets and pendants in larger sizes, or on more masculine looking chains, which I'm happy to accommodate them with." To peruse her current season offering in person, visit the Artists & Fleas market, or visit her website.