For six jet-setting jewelry designers, the world is their muse. Rima Suqi gets these rock stars' best travel tips, secret finds, and favorite places.
Founder, Daniel K
Diamonds and travel are in Daniel Koren's blood. The third-generation jeweler—who was raised in Israel and Italy and traveled constantly growing up—launched Daniel K just six years ago and has quickly become the go-to man for everything bling. TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY "I was raised to believe a summer vacation should last all summer, not just a week or two, and we'd spend it on the beach in Italy. It gave me a work-to-live mentality." FAVORITE PLACES "I love Monaco for its decadence—I love to see people showing off their yachts, cars, and, of course, jewelry." SHOPPING TIPS "I'm a shopaholic. Everyone knows that Antwerp is great for diamonds, but it also has amazing kids' boutiques, where I shop for my children. Rome appeals to me because of its specialty shops that sell one item and only one—like gloves. The best airports for duty-free are Milan's Malpensa and Charles de Gaulle in Paris." ON HOTELS "A concierge who can fulfill any request at any time and 24-hour room service are vital. The Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is probably the best place I've ever stayed. I just opened three shops in Dubai, and I can't wait to visit. I hear the hotel service there is unreal."
Roberto Faraone Mennella and Amedeo Scognamiglio
Founders, Faraone Mennella
Naples, Italy, natives Roberto Faraone Mennella and Amedeo Scognamiglio had been friends for over 15 years when they decided to create Faraone Mennella. Their asymmetrical gold links caught the eye of Carolina Herrera, who recently tapped the duo to design a line for her label. FASHION ADVICE Roberto: "Everything goes faster when you're in a suit—from passport control to check-in." Amedeo: "I have a packing list for a one- to two-week trip: one dark suit, five dress shirts, three T-shirts, two trousers, a pair of jeans, sneakers, black loafers,six pairs of socks, gym clothes, swimsuit." IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT Amedeo: "Classic literature, like Plutarch's Parallel Lives, is perfect for a long flight. You can give it your undivided attention while catching up on your old college studies." FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD Roberto: "The best chips I ever ate were the eight-dollar ones in the mini-bar at the Wynn Las Vegas." ON HOTELS Roberto: "I always make the bed in my hotel room. I'm ashamed when I travel with Amedeo because he throws everything around." Amedeo: "I love any of the Four Seasons and boutique hotels like the Marincanto in Positano, which has incredible views."
Temple St. Clair-Carr
Founder, Temple St. Clair
"I didn't go to school for jewelry design—it was born out of my studies and my travels," says Temple St. Clair-Carr, a Renaissance woman of sorts. Her master's degree is in 15th- and 16th-century Italian literature, and that era continues to inform her simple but bold creations. FAMILY AFFAIR "I try to take my children with me when I travel. One of my oldest son's first words was 'weh-weh,' to describe elephants in Sri Lanka." PACKING ADVICE "I wish I could say I only use my grandmother's steamer trunks, but I lean toward the practical and indestructible. Tumi has worked it out." ON HOTELS "I love old palaces that are a little rough around the edges, like the Queens Hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka. It's across the street from the Temple of the Tooth, which supposedly contains one of Buddha's teeth." TREASURE HUNTING "There is an archaeologist who says, 'Show me a piece of jewelry and I'll show you a culture.' Wherever I go, I scour the souks and markets for local jewels, but also treasures that have nothing to do with that place." CAPTURING MEMORIES "A sketchbook slows you down to a 19th-century pace. It's important to take everything in, rather than zipping through with your video camera."
Founder, Alexis Bittar
Cult jewelry designer Alexis Bittar is making up for lost time. "I didn't start traveling until I was 24," says the nomad, who in 13 years has covered almost every continent, sticking to roads less traveled. "I've got a new set of wings." TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY "I made a commitment to myself that I would seek out places that stretch my imagination. The thrill of seeing cultures and customs gives me more energy to design." FAVORITE PLACES "When I was in Beijing, I was inspired by the reality of China—the smell of coal, a back alley—as opposed to my childhood fantasies." CARRY-ON ESSENTIALS "I have a Glenalmond Tweed Company satchel and a big, major fanny pack from Eastern Mountain Sports." RETAIL THERAPY "When you're traveling solo, shopping is a way of socializing. I generally find myself alone in Tokyo, where I love the department store Isetan. I've learned not to shop when jet-lagged—I fall prey to good salespeople." ON HOTELS "When hotels are too hip, I'm not into it. Places like London's Savoy evoke escape and fantasy. Across from Hong Kong's Park Lane, old ladies do tai chi every morning. Ultimately, I view the world as a movie screen and absorb as much as I can."
Founder, Nancey Chapman
Over three decades ago, Nancey Chapman learned to work gold when she was living in Mexico, but got distracted by a modeling career that took her to Paris, Japan, and Kenya. She continued to create jewelry on the side for friends and family. In 1999, she made it official, launching a collection of mostly one-of-a-kind pieces with large stones. FAVORITE PLACES "I love dusty countries and tropical regions: I've traveled all over the Middle East and have been to India 17 times. India is the land of fables, which is the best place for a dreamer like me. I stay in palaces like Narain Niwas, where you are awakened by peacocks." IN-FLIGHT ESSENTIALS "I'm a real germophobe, so I bring wipes and clean my seat. I get a lot of funny looks, but I don't care. Can you imagine what's on that armrest?" ROAD-TRIP RULES "Growing up in the South, people used to get in cars and take off—where they ended up, who knows?My husband and I recently went to Aspen in a big old Cadillac. At a trading post outside of Wichita Falls, Texas, we found vintage moccasins. In New Mexico, I met a guy named Ron Boyd who is now making me fur-lined boots. I love discovering treasures in the middle of nowhere."
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
A stem-to-stern renovation completed in 2006 (to the tune of $150 million) renewed the luster of this legendary property—a decades-long favorite of visiting dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher and Henry Kissinger. Many of the 501 rooms have been enlarged (by enclosing the balconies in glass); high-tech amenities like Wi-Fi, and touch-screen lighting and temperature control have also been added. The décor’s been updated, too, with plush velvety fabrics, wood wall panels, and colorfully glazed Asian ceramics. Though there’s a spa on three floors with Chinese herbal steam rooms, bathing beauties may be perfectly content to languish in their own airy marble bathrooms, kitted out with Hermès toiletries. The real choice comes in the form of 10 different restaurants and bars. Our favorites: Man Wah, with its classic Cantonese cuisine, and the sophisticated French-influenced Pierre, helmed by chef Pierre Gagnaire.