H aving worked for the iconic designer Tom Ford for 19 years, rising from his assistant to Senior Vice President of Communications, Whitney Bromberg Hawkings knows the fashion industry inside out. In 2015 she launched FLOWERBX, a luxury online florist that specialises in delivering flowers directly from growers to buyers and whose clients have included Prada, Tiffany & Co. and Emilia Wickstead.
Here she selects her highlights from Sotheby's upcoming Weekly Edits of Fine Jewels in Milan, London and Paris, and talks through her own collection from her first Rolex to her treasured engagement ring and her fail-safe everyday pieces.
What is your go-to everyday jewelry look?
I love vintage gold link bracelets and have amassed quite a collection. I am currently wearing a gold chain link bracelet that was my grandmothers, one that is vintage and the new Bottega Veneta chunky chain link bracelet that was recently shown on the runway. I also always wear a bold, gold heart ring that my husband had made for me when I had our third child and is engraved with all of their names. I save my engagement ring (a 1920s emerald cut diamond that my husband bought for me at SJ Philips) for when I am not in a warehouse, elbow-deep in flowers.
Do you have any early fashion or jewelry memories, perhaps from your mother or grandmother?
My grandmother definitely started my love of bold, gold jewelry and my Mom helped solidify it! Coming from Texas, more is always more, so I definitely apply this approach to jewelry.
Do you remember what your first special piece of jewelry was?
Yes! I got a stainless steel and gold Rolex for my 16th birthday and couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I thought it was the height of sophistication and adulthood, and I felt so proud wearing it.
Do you prefer new or vintage jewels, or a mixture of the two?
I love vintage pieces most, as the craft and heritage in a piece is so apparent. All of my fine jewelry is vintage, and I love the history they carry.
And what are the most treasured pieces in your jewelry collection?
My engagement ring is my most treasured piece of jewelry because it is flawless, and of course very symbolic. Tom Ford, my friend and old boss, gave me my other most treasured pieces in my jewelry collection. For my 40th birthday, he very presciently gave me a beautiful, jewel-encrusted floral ring that Eliane Fattal designed for SJ Philips. It is a treasure. He also gave me an elegant diamond tennis bracelet from SJ Philips on my 30th as he said a woman couldn’t have enough diamond tennis bracelets, with which I would have to wholeheartedly agree.
"Tom Ford said a woman couldn’t have enough diamond tennis bracelets, with which I would have to wholeheartedly agree."
Your brand designs flowers for a lot of big fashion events – how do you approach flowers for jewel brands?
We love working with jewelry brands, as the brief is often ornate and exquisite. It is also easy to mimic the colours and mood of jewelry with flowers. It is always fun and challenging to translate a brand’s identity and vision into floral décor.
Given your business is flowers, do you own any jewelry inspired by nature or florals?
I do! The beautiful SJ Philips flower ring that I mentioned above is one of my favourite pieces. I have my eyes on one of the Boucheron flower rings, but I think I will have to wait for that for when I’ve sold FLOWERBX!!
Whitney's Highlights from Fine Jewels Milan, London and Paris
Where do you get your style inspiration from? Who are your fashion icons?
I always look to Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn as my style icons. My modern-day jewelry style icon is editor and stylist, Elizabeth Saltzman, as she has this effortless and glamorous ease in her approach to jewelry and makes every piece she wears seem totally desirable.
You’re originally from Dallas, Texas which has a reputation for a quite a glamorous style – is that something you identify with or shy away from?
Yes! More is more is more. If I didn't currently live in London, I would wear diamonds every day!
How would you describe your signature style?
I definitely favour more classic pieces, and the quality and cut are key. I am always in a well-cut jacket, Gucci loafers (at the warehouse) or Gianvito Rossi heels (in town) and a perfect fitting white tee. Jewelry is how I update and elevate that look every day, and I feel naked without my bangles and rings – an armour, in a sense, and an immediate style-elevator.
You began your career as Tom Ford’s PA – what styling lessons did you learn from working with him?
I learned that the devil is in the detail. The cut and fit is everything. Why dress down when you can dress up?! And how to have fun and express yourself with your clothes, accessories and jewelry. As Tom always said, and I agree, “dressing well is a form of respect to others.” I think about this all the time and also try to teach that to my children.
Are there any new jewelry brands or designers that you’ve recently discovered?
I’m in love with Lisa Eisner’s Native American inspired jewelry that has a rawness and spirituality to it that feels authentic and bold. I also love Cartier, always, and forever. I think my next splurge will be a vintage Cartier bangle from the 60s. I also never tire of Verdura, and a pair of Verdura cuffs represents the epitome of style.