A couple of weeks ago I visited the showroom of McTeigue & McClelland (McII) in New York. Fighting my way through the busy rush hour mobs scurrying to get home after a long day’s work, I found myself in the incredible Art Deco lobby of McII’s Fifth Avenue building just a stone’s throw from 47th street.
After ringing the door bell, I was greeted by Walter McTeigue who invited me in to see some of McII’s latest creations.
Walter, who was joined by his wife that evening, is a fourth generation jeweler who started working for his father, a diamond and precious stone dealer, at the age of 20. For over 20 years, Walter worked in New York’s Diamond District, gaining a reputation for specializing in diamonds and estate jewelry. His keen eye for quality stones and fine craftsmanship landed him a job at prestigious New York jewelry firm Harry Winston, where we served first as their Estate Jewelry Buyer and later becoming Director of Purchasing.
The other half of this jewelry dynamic duo is Tim McClelland, the artistic mastermind with an unparalleled imagination for fanciful designs. After studying and apprenticing for years under some of the industry’s master jewelers and contemporary metalsmiths, Tim struck out on his own as a freelance designer and jewelry make in New York City.
As fate would have it, the two met in an elevator near the Diamond District in 1984 and immediately realized they were one’s yin to the other’s yang, in jewelry that is. Soon, they began working together – Walter sourcing the precious gemstones and Tim designing and making the jewelry. In 1996, their success in the city led them to open an office/workshop in Barrington, Massachusetts, a favorite town frequented by Berkshire vacationers.
Today, the jewelry created by McTeigue & McClelland continues to be exceptional, invoking the natural beauty and surroundings of their country boutique tucked away in the Berkshires. With their fresh perspective ever present as soon as I stepped foot in their showroom, Walter walked me through a handful of jewels from their latest collection.
The very first jewel to catch my eye was a stunning, though beautifully refined, gold floral necklace with antique cut diamonds. Exquisitely handcrafted, the antique European cut of the diamonds made the necklace glow ever so subtly, adding just a hint of sparkle to the delicate gold flowers.
While it was hard to pry my eyes off the extraordinary workmanship of the floral necklace, Walter unveiled the next jewel extraordinaire: a one-of-a-kind sapphire and diamond pierced Flora Noir bracelet. The antique-style bracelet features 27 cushion-cut Ceylon blue sapphires and 178 old European-cut diamonds and 57 single-cut diamonds set in yellow gold and silver, all of which glistened and glimmered with an old world appeal.
As we talked over the jewels on the table, Walter became rather excited when he open a small leather box and pulled out a loose diamond of a very unique cut. The diamond exhibited McII’s proprietary Barrington cut, an antique-style cut that is part cushion, part emerald. Walter, a fan of antique diamond cuts, has been experimenting with various new versions that emulate the aesthetic and subtle sparkle of antique diamonds.
Next, Walter shared with me one of Tim’s newest pieces that he very recently made: a vibrantly colored necklace of Egyptian Revival inspiration. The turquoise, ruby and jade drops colorfully spray about the neck in a design that would make a modern-day Cleopatra proud!
One of the last jewels Walter showed me was a spectacular bib necklace weaved with a fountain of round pressed gold medallions. With every subtle movement, the medallions coyly jingled and jangled, a sound that was very pleasing to the ear. The striking statement necklace was the perfect hurrah to end our joyous jewelry meeting.
Filled with respect for Walter’s immense passion for jewelry, I left feeling hopeful that there exists jewelers like him and his partner Tim who take pride in making jewelry not for the masses but for jewelry lovers who truly appreciate the process and craft of fine jewelry.
Here are a few more pieces from McTeigue & McClelland’s latest collection: