Cynthia Rowley Talks Travel, Creativity & Fine Jewels

By Stephanie Sporn

NEW YORK – When she’s not designing her eponymous collection, which includes everything from ready-to-wear and fitness apparel to home decor and office supplies, Cynthia Rowley is busy finding inspiration for her colourful and playful patterns, whether travelling, surfing or visiting an art gallery. “Needless to say, I wake up like I’m shot out of a cannon,” says the designer, who is known to love a new project or collaboration. While her Instagram is bursting with images of visits to Rome, Jakarta and more, the designer has firmly established herself as a staple in the New York arts and culture scene, and now she’s lending her globetrotting eye to Sotheby’s jewellery. Ahead of our Magnificent Jewels and Fine Jewels auctions in New York, we spoke with Rowley about travel, her predilection for playful accessories and why when it comes to jewellery, more is definitely more.


How would you define your design aesthetic?  
Travel and adventure are a big part of our brand. There are always far flung influences mixed with classic sport and just a pinch of pretty.  

What is it about vintage jewellery and pieces with history that inspires you?  
Looking at a beautiful piece of vintage jewellery, I can imagine the whole look. Sometimes vintage clothes are hard to wear, but jewellery is timeless. I also love to imagine where and how the last owner wore the jewellery and what a great time they had wearing it.   

Are there any classic jewellery designers that you’re particularly drawn to?  
I like the extroverted playfulness of Schlumberger. I guess I’ve never understood the idea that if you’re investing a lot in something, that it should be boring and versatile. I think if you’re buying something, you should buy the most special piece that makes you happy every time you look at it.  


Do you have a favorite type of jewel?  
Aren’t all jewels mesmerising? Sometimes I wish I was born in May so I have an excuse to buy a lot of emeralds – although a ruby is always nice. And then again, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, especially yellow diamonds…and pink diamonds…  

What is your jewellery styling mantra?
More is more. Less is a bore. When I was looking at the jewels in the sale, I just kept imagining being able to wear them all at once.  

From your eclectic designs – and your jet-setting Instagram – it’s clear you love to travel. How does travelling influence your creativity?  
I think travelling with a wide-eyed view of the world opens your imagination to infinite possibilities. When I travel, I don’t necessarily buy a lot, but seeing so much and being stimulated by new experiences opens my creative mind.   


View the slideshow to discover Cynthia Rowley's favourite pieces from our upcoming jewellery sales.

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

More from Sotheby's