Elliot Avianne, jewelry designer for New York’s Avianne & Co., has racked up an extensive list of celebrity clients since joining the store as a sales clerk when he was 18. “I didn’t know anything at the time,” Avianne told us. “I didn’t even think that I would be doing this.” Six years later, he’s worked with everyone from Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj to Chris Brown. We spoke to the in demand jeweler about creating unique pieces for some of the biggest celebrity teams around (Young Money, Cash Money, Freebandz, Rich Gang), dealing with difficult requests, and being prepared to fly away at a moment’s notice.
So Nicki Minaj was your first big celebrity client?
Elliot Avianne: Yeah, definitely. She came to the store and everything. She bought a bunch of stuff — her first big diamond watch is from us. I made her a Roman piece for her new album at that time, then she introduced me to Birdman. He didn’t deal with me right away, though. I started dealing with Lil Wayne first — almost everything [Wayne] is wearing is from me — and then Birdman started dealing with me, too.
What are the steps to creating a custom piece for a celeb?
We look at the situation they’re in, and we try to work off that. They basically give me the idea and I help them create a vision. I work with my model makers on designing it on the computer. After that, I cast it in whatever metal they want. Once it’s casted, I give it to Izzy and he prepares the diamonds for it. Then I give it to my diamond setters and they set the diamonds in the piece. I tell them where to put the diamonds and that’s about it. The last step is to polish.
Who has been your most difficult to work with?
Nicki is like that. I had about six days to do [the Roman necklace]. She wanted it to be the same size as her Barbie piece that I didn’t make, so I kind of went off a picture but I made it slightly smaller. She made me redo it so it was the same size. She understood, but she was kind of frustrated because she had a lot of pressure with her album coming out. I just agreed with her and didn’t take it personally. The piece looked good, so it was nothing to be embarrassed about.
Was she bitching you out about it?
[Pause.] Kind of. I know she didn’t mean it like other people [would]. I know how she is so I didn’t take her personally.
Who is your most demanding client?
Birdman. He’s the most consistent with buying jewelry every month. He doesn’t just buy jewelry for himself, he buys for his whole team. And he never buys one piece.
How do you handle difficult celebs?
I just try to please them. If they give me a deadline I try to finish it before a deadline.
You created Bow Wow’s engagement ring for Erica Mena, right?
Me and Bow have a close relationship, so he called me to get it right. He told me he wants the center stone to be the main focus, which helped me come up with the design. It’s a three-carat round cut DVS one diamond stone, 18-karat yellow gold double shank, halo micro pave setting.
What do you think are some misconceptions people have with celebrity jewelers?
People think I have the easiest life and the best life. They follow me on Instagram and say, “Oh you travel, you’re with these people and those people.”
Source: Nicki Minaj’s Jeweler on Designing for the Stars and How to Spot Fake Bling on the Red Carpet