Best Jewelry Designer

Critics' Picks

Nancy Deal


I first became aware of Nancy Deal’s work while organizing the Reader’s fashion issue in 2007, and I’ve never forgotten it—even though I hardly ever get to see it. In an age when most aspiring designers bombard editors with PR about sales and new collections, Deal is practically a hermit. She doesn’t have a Web site and sells her work in person, at trunk shows. But her designs exhibit all the boldness her sales technique lacks. Her necklaces are giant breastplates of coiled metal, slices of geode, and chunks of quartz; long sterling-silver cuffs studded with jasper seem made for battle, without sliding into medieval-goth territory. But she has a subtle side too, seen in pieces incorporating vintage sari fabric or a delicate-looking golden leaf brooch with a swirly, hand-sawed design. It’s rare to see such a broad range of styles and techniques rendered so well. Deal deserves to be better known—but only if that’s what she wants.