From the Courtroom to the Red Carpet: Nicole Amato Talks Fierce Femininity in Jewelry

Photo courtesy of Melinda DiMauro

From Paris Fashion Week to the Grammys red carpet, AMATOSTYLE jewelry has been flaunted on the best of the best because of the message at the heart of each design: flaunt femininity with ferocity. In this Q&A, Founder Nicole Amato walks us through what it’s like to start a jewelry brand after a decades-long career in law, as well as how jewelry can be a vessel to express the many facets of what it means to be a woman.

How did you get your start in jewelry design? Why jewelry, in particular?

I have always loved fashion, from when I was around five or six years old. My mother used to get W Magazine back in the 70’s, and it was a newspaper that was too big for me to hold at the time. I would lay on the floor and flip through it cover to cover. Later in life, I decided to step into law and that swallowed a lot of my time, and I would make jewelry on the side. When I had my kids, I was a stay-at-home mom and would continue to make and sell jewelry as a side hustle in my spare time. As years went on, when I was almost 50, I thought that if I don’t do it in my later years, I’ll never do it. And you just have to do it. I know that the transition from law into jewelry is not common, but you just have to do it and not let anything get in the way of what you love. So that’s what I did.

Walk us through the technical aspects of transitioning from law to jewelry.

Law and business are closely related; lawyers transition to business all the time. For me, that transition was not so much technical as it was emotional. I realized later in life that it was time to let my soul run free, because a career in jewelry design is a dream come true. I couldn’t let any negative thoughts stifle me, and I didn’t. When I left my other career, I woke up that very first day and I had a schedule for myself. I told myself: I’m going to go to the city, I’m going to do it, and I had it all planned out. I worked the same hours I would have worked at the law firm. Then when my kids got home from school at three o’clock, I became Mom again.  I stuck to that schedule every day.

You come from a family of Italian immigrants. How does that background influence your brand?

Amato, my last name, means “beloved” in Italian. My grandfather comes from Calabria in the south of Italy. He really instilled in all of us at a young age the importance of putting quality and dedication into anything that you are working on. The way you dress and present yourself in life is a reflection of who you are on the inside, and it’s so important to put time and effort into that. From the tiniest button on a shirt, to a bold necklace that looks like a dagger, self-expression comes from the way you look. Craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail is prevalent in Italian culture, and it’s a value that my grandfather brought over to America when he raised his family. My grandmother on my mother’s side was also Italian, from just outside of Florence, so I grew up with similar values from both ends of the peninsula instilled in me. I also discovered that my grandmother attended fashion school in Manhattan in the 30s, which is really cool because I always thought I never had a background in fashion, but apparently it runs in the family.

What sets Amato apart from other hand-crafted jewelry brands?

Each one of my pieces tells a story. For example, I did not find much jewelry out there that celebrated motherhood that was modern, edgy and even sexy. When you have a baby, you’re still the same person you were before you had that baby. You still want to get dressed up and have style and be sexy when you go out. I loved the idea of combining motherhood and style and expressing individual identity. The Mother and Child pendant necklace is an abstract of a mother holding her child; the combined edginess of the strong elongated silhouette with a mother’s love symbolizes the duality of motherhood. It expresses all the ways a mother can be both fierce and sexy while at the same time compassionate, soft and caring.

What is the best part about running your own jewelry brand?

I have always been creative, and love being able to tap into that when I make my own product But I also really love the business side of running my own jewelry brand. That’s also my background in law coming out; a lot of lawyers can easily make that transition into business, as the two sometimes go hand-in-hand.

What are some signature elements of Amato pieces?

Each piece is a statement piece and shares a message. The Embrace collection is obvious. It’s all about love and sensuality; it depicts two lovers, a man and a woman. The Mother and Child pendant is also about love, the love of a mother and her child. The fierce elongated symbol in the necklaces represents the sensuality and strength of what it means to be a woman. I carve each design myself because I know what my vision is supposed to look like. I also designed and carved the Wanderlust Girls collection, and like the other pieces, is very bold but also very soft and feminine at the same time. The signature of my brand is this paradox that combines boldness with soft femininity, and I love that each piece tells that kind of story.

What does the future at AMATOSTYLE look like?

Some new collections are coming out very soon in September just in time for the fall season, so that’s something that I can only hint at for now. Stay tuned!