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Rosalina Lydster's career as a jewelry designer is relatively new. After college, Lydster entered the finance world, taking a job at Franklin Templeton Investments. After 12 years in finance, one of her colleagues encouraged her to start her company. "He knew my passion and what I wanted to do. He pushed me." It was no secret at Franklin that Rosalina had an eye for jewelry. She had already designed wedding rings for a number of her colleagues. Now, 12 years later, her client roster includes more than a few household names: Tom Hanks, Tori Spelling, Dakota Fanning, Giselle Bundchen, Elton John, Orlando Bloom, Fergie, and every Hilton imaginable.
Rosalina comes from a family of jewelers —both her mother and grandmother worked in the industry— but she chose not to follow their path into brick and mortar. Rosalina knew she loved high-end retail, so she decided that she would sell her jewelry in Neiman Marcus. Then she willed her plan into action. "Everybody thought I was crazy. But I'm one of those people, when I decide I want something, I don't take no for answer. I will try. I will go out there myself, and I will do whatever I can to be a success."
Lydster started designing her line in 2002, and she knew that her designs were too big, too ostentatious for San Francisco. "You have to pick your market," she advises. "When you pick the right place and the right time, it will work." So she decided to go to Vegas.
"In 2002, jewelry in the United States was very much in the style of Tiffany. Everybody's conservative, everything's diamond, and it's small. This is very boring to me. I grew up in Asia and Paris; I love color," she says. Vegas was a gamble, but she walked away with a deal to do a trunk show at Neiman Marcus two months later. The clients loved her work: She sold over $75,000 in jewelry at the first show. Within two years, 35 Neiman Marcus stores carried the line. After a friend connected her with celebrity wrangler Lori Levine, the Hollywood set started wearing her jewelry, too.
Even though Rosalina has clients throughout the Bay Area and around the world, she refuses to mass-produce pieces. "I think the reason we're very successful is I'm not a mass producer. I design each piece, I make two or three. They're all handmade. It's all different...The Bellisimo necklace is my signature necklace: I've made ten of them. Each is different. So clients love that. No one wants to walk around and look like everyone else."
Next up on the design front? Rosalina's talking about launching a shoe line. "It's going to start with heels and sandals, but really fun. I love Europe, I love the whole St. Tropez look; very sexy, but comfy at the same time." Before she dives into shoes, however, she's dedicating all her spare time during the fall to another passion: charity work. Along with Angie Elconin, Lydster is hosting Vietnamese American: The Next Generation, a charity gala in Napa next weekend to create scholarships for the children of Vietnamese American veterans. Tickets, if you're interested, are available here. And while it's sure to be a packed event, you should be able to spot Rosalina in the room. Just follow the jewelry.