Harriette Rose Katz recently commissioned her jeweler to make a 32-inch diamond pavé link necklace and matching bracelet. But the sparklers, which together cost $14,000, aren’t real diamonds: They’re cubic zirconia.
Turns out, the Upper East Side event planner has the same bracelet and necklace in 18-karat gold with over 40 carats in diamonds.
Yes, Katz ordered a pricey knock-off of her own gems.
“I am afraid to wear them too often, so I decided to make them into a not-real set,” says Katz, who bought the real set for $250,000 about 30 years ago. “It’s so flashy and gorgeous, but I am really never traveling with it. Even to go overnight somewhere.”
Katz is one of the many monied New Yorkers making Canal Street versions of their bona fide baubles because they’re afraid of being robbed while traveling or walking down the street. They don their real finery for formal galas, but for the daily grind they’ll slip on the bogus bling. It’s a hush-hush practice that’s been on the rise since October, when Kim Kardashian reported being tied up and robbed of more than $10 million in jewelry, including her 20-carat diamond engagement ring, in a Paris hotel.
“It’s the 1 percent who do this,” says Hillary Kahn, the jewelry stylist at Murrey’s Jewelers who is making Katz’s replica. “It’s a sensitive topic. They want to replicate their engagement rings, studs and pearls mostly. And it’s not just diamonds. It’s big stones like sapphires, too.”
Katz, the owner of Gourmet Advisory, wasn’t always so careful about her valuables. For years, she traveled back and forth to Italy, lugging them in a safety deposit box across the Atlantic Ocean.
“And then I said to myself after a while, ‘Boy, are you screwed up.’ It’s very dangerous. Look what happened to Kim Kardashian,” Katz adds.
“After the Kim Kardashian robbery, there was a huge bump in that element of my business,” says jewelry designer Jennifer Miller, who fabricates mock jewelry in her eponymous Lexington Avenue shop, where she also sells real gems.
“I was shocked Kim was traveling with that big old honker of a ring,” Miller says. “I feel terrible for her but it was bound to happen. Even though she has more security than most people, she was the perfect target. But her ring would have been so easy to replicate.”
Miller knows a thing or two about celebrity hardware. In 2001, Jennifer Lopez’s stylist commissioned a $2,000 faux pavé heart necklace with 48.4 carats for the singer to wear and toss into the crowd when she performed “My Love Don’t Cost a Thing” at the American Music Awards. Her designs are often seen on Hoda Kotb, Christie Brinkley and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ ” Kyle Richards.
Miller is also the first person the folks at venerable jewelry houses call after making a big sale.
“I have sales associates I work with at Harry Winston, Graff and other huge houses,” she says. “They will sell a 10-carat heart-shaped diamond necklace and personally call me and ask to make a replica to give to their client, so they can travel with it. They are making so much commission on it, so why wouldn’t they buy a $2,000 [piece of jewelry] and gift it to their clients?”But for the elite, a vacation home isn’t a vacation home without a fleet of shiny accessories.
‘People think everything I wear is real — what a joke.’
– Harriette Rose Katz
“One of my clients has multiple homes and wears a pair of diamond studs that total 8 carats,” Miller says. “She doesn’t want to travel with them. I made her a replica of them, and she ended up ordering two new more pairs because she wanted to leave them in her houses.”
The earrings cost $300 a pair and are set exactly like the originals. The same client then ordered a duplicate of her 12-carat engagement solitaire. Blogger Lyss Stern also locked up her heirloom earrings and wears faux replicas.
“I have a beautiful pair of diamonds that my grandmother had left me,” she says. “I personally don’t like wearing them every day because I have three kids, and the youngest was always pulling at my ears. I have a pair of studs that were a copy. And every time I wear them, I get more compliments on them than when I wear my real pair.”
Miller says the high-end reproductions can be even more dazzling than the originals.
“They are usually brighter and better colored than most people’s diamonds because they are synthetically crafted,” she says. “You’d only know they were fake if you were looking at them through a jeweler’s loupe.”
Then again, not everyone can afford to fake it. “If you take a $30,000 string of South Sea pearls, you can replicate them for $1,500 to $2,000,” Kahn says.
She recalls a client who came into the Third Avenue shop with a million-dollar sapphire ring looking for a knock-off.
“We used the finest synthetic sapphire made in France and cut it in the same specifications and dimensions as her stuff,” she says.
The client now keeps the original in a safe. “She told me she wears it to all of her events in the city. She’s much more comfortable now.” Common though faux diamonds are these days, many don’t want to be caught out wearing them.
Katz, who has also made a copy of a Van Cleef ring, has no shame.
“I love every minute I wear my jewelry,” she says. “But some people think everything I wear is real — what a joke.”
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