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The Jeweler

Artist and master goldsmith Donna Distefano is dedicated to jewelry history and sees herself as part of the evolution of her craft from antiquity to the present day. An award winning jeweler and independent scholar on the works of Dante Alighieri, Distefano is equally inspired by medieval art and literature, her Italian heritage, and her urban environment, all of which inform her art.

Appreciated worldwide by discerning collectors, celebrities that wear Donna Distefano jewelry include legendary Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, Pulitzer Prize winning and Oscar nominated playwright Tony Kushner, actor Johnny Depp, recording artists Sheryl Crow, Debbie Harry, and Alice Cooper, actors Alan Cumming, Milena Govich, Stephanie March, Jessie L. Martin, and Paula Garces among others.

Internationally, she has appeared in Italian trades and newspapers such as L'orafo Italiano, Image, and Il Globo. Distefano is a member of The Dante Society and the Renaissance Society of America. Her most recent lecture took place at the Università di Napoli in June 2016 in Naples, Italy as a part of the AATI (American Association of Teachers of Italian) international conference. Her jewelry is frequently seen on the red carpet including the Academy Awards and the Miss USA pageant.

Distefano's goldsmithing masterpiece, The Love that moves the sun and the other stars was on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History from June 2015 to January 2016 and at the Forbes Galleries in 2013. The artistry of this piece led to accolades including a Proclamation from the City of Pittsburgh, declaring July 21st, 2015 “Donna Distefano Day” in the city of Pittsburgh, recognizing her “outstanding career in combining poetry, history, and literature with her commitment to socially and environmentally responsible jewelry making.”

Before establishing her private atelier in 1994, Distefano was the senior goldsmith for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, responsible for creating the museum's jewelry reproductions. A recognized expert in the jewelry industry, Distefano has been a featured lecturer at The National Arts Club in New York City for the Gemological Institute of America, the world’s leading authority on diamond and gemstones. Donna Distefano was named "Best of New York" by New York Magazine in 2010 and honored by the non-profit Jewelers that Care in 2011. Her work has been featured in InStyle, Town & Country, Gotham, Interview, The Huffington Post, Glamour, and Brides magazines among others. She is favored by top fashion editors, as well as stylists from NBC, CBS, Fox Network, and FX among others.

 

Donna's Inspiration

Creative expression for me began at age 10 when I opened my first “studio” in my mom's garage. This space became my escape into a world of imagination and creativity. Influenced & encouraged by both parents, I was exposed to books on the Vatican treasures, art history, the music of the Beatles, Enrico Caruso and Frank Sinatra. I spent hours drawing, playing the flute, and making puppets and other handicrafts. My studio was also a theater, and with music provided by Spike Jones whose 78's I found in my grandfather's wine cellar, I was a hit.

When I was sixteen and still in high school, I jumped at an opportunity to take a few art classes at the University of Bridgeport. One of those classes was jewelry making. As soon as I finished my first project, I knew I would be a jeweler. I studied jewelry making and design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. The stimulation of living in New York City in the 80's continued to spark my imagination as I poured myself into new discoveries-punk rock, theater, fashion, and decorative arts of antiquity.

In 1989, I traveled to Italy to study. Inspired by my European heritage along with my passion for art and fine craft, I studied at the University of Urbino and later with Italian designers. After a year in Italy, I returned to focus on classical goldsmithing and landed a job as senior craftsman for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here I created reproductions of the jewelry pieces of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Italians.

At the Met, I loved working in this rich, aesthetic environment, surrounded by many treasures and favorite works of art. And then, in this place that I loved, I also met the love of my life, Sean Thomas. Sean shares my love of the arts and continues to encourage me to grow in my craft. After five years at the Met, I opened a metal studio in SoHo. We relocated to Chelsea in 1997.

Today I am immersed in making jewelry that is colorful, precious and exciting. I am inspired by glass objects (the other liquid solid), carved wood, wrought iron, good music and nature. I am also honored to be able to teach others the techniques of goldsmithing.

I have spent most of my life in New York City where I was born. The city, its diverse cultures, and the arts that give it breath continue to fuel my imagination. I have traveled many creative roads since the days in my mom's garage as I continue to fulfill my artistic self. I have many more to go.

-Donna Distefano Thomas

  • “Rock and Roll jewelry at
    it's finest.”
    - Joe Perry, Aerosmith
  • “Donna’s Jewels really rock!”
    - Gotham Magazine
  • “One of the coolest sites to
    shop online”
    - InStyle Magazine
  • “Best of New York 2010”
    - New York Magazine