How I Got Here: Christina Caruso Evolves From Fashion to Bold Jewelry

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Most people spend their senior year of college dreaming of graduation and sending out résumés….

Most people spend their senior year of college dreaming of graduation and sending out résumés. Christina Caruso spent hers hanging out with costume designer Patricia Field, talking design and fashion.

“That first day we formally met at Pat’s apartment, I laid everything out I had made in school, and she offered me coffee and cigarettes. I don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes, but I did that day,” recalls Caruso, who was then in her last year at Parsons School of Design. “At that moment I knew something was going to happen. This was a special moment in my life. This was going to make me.”

Caruso had gotten to know Field—who became a household name styling Sex and the City—at clubs around New York City. For the HBO hit, Field would use Caruso’s knit clutch, other handmade bags, and some of her vintage jewelry on Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw—and the rest, as they say, is history. Carrie even threw one of Caruso’s bags at Mr. Big. The legacy!

Christina Caruso earring
Christina Caruso says her oval earrings ($385) come from her love of organic shapes, and the Line Cuff ($325) reflects her appreciation of architecture. 

Caruso would go on to create jewelry for several brands, including major retailers like Banana Republic and designers such as Isaac Mizrahi. She worked various other jobs in the fashion and accessories industry over the years, and in 2021 reintroduced her namesake company, Christina Caruso, to jewelry shoppers.

Back in the early years, Caruso had worked day and night putting together her first collection of handbags, even though she knew little about starting a business. But start a business she did. Her work got picked up by Fred Siegel, Henri Bendel, and boutiques from New York to Los Angeles.

The kid born and raised in Staten Island had hit it big. Caruso says her creativity flowed from her father, who owned a well-known body shop in Brooklyn, and she credits her love of glamour to her artist mother, who always wore a full face of makeup and dressed to the nines while raising four children. Her mom wore crescent hoops, slinky snake chains, and chunky jewels galore—an icon in her daughter’s mind for her jewelry, Caruso says.

Caruso rode her handbag company’s tsunami of success happily for a few years—until she saw a knockoff of her knit bag at a trade show. “It was in 100 different colors and made in China. I knew I couldn’t compete with that.

“I decided I had to learn the business for real, and fast,” Caruso says. “I went to work in the [fashion] industry with a full-time job in manufacturing, but I freelanced on the side. I picked up a job here and there in PR and retail. I was a sponge for the whole industry.”

Christina Caruso ring
The signet ring ($2,500) can be customized with initials, and the Italian chain-link bracelet ($245) has a closure that allows for adjustable sizing. 

In 2005 Caruso went to work for a multi-brand accessory company, leading its fashion jewelry division. She learned about the design process from sketch to concept to store, and traveled to Asia for the first time.

Then she joined Isaac Mizrahi as design director in 2008, designing for his Liz Claiborne collab. “This was one of my favorite jobs,” Caruso says. “Isaac is such a creative talent. One day we would be designing jewelry inspired by cake and candy; the next day we were working on a collection inspired by rocks he found in Central Park.”

In 2011 she became the design director of jewelry at Gap-owned Banana Republic, during a statement necklace craze. Caruso worked on the famous collar necklace that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore, which was dubbed the Dissent Collar.

“It felt like I was a part of something—Gap and Banana Republic had a culture like a college campus,” Caruso says.

Christina Caruso logo
Designed as a bold image, Caruso’s logo is available on hoop earrings ($325) that still feel weightless, she says. 

Caruso started working for Xcel Brands in 2016, as the creative director for a luxury jewelry line. Part of her job was being a guest host for QVC, selling the jewelry live on television. Caruso loved being an on-air host, sharing the stories and inspirations behind the designs.

She slowed down when she became a mom in 2017. Caruso was doing fashion consulting when she decided it was time to put her name back on something she made from start to finish. In 2020, at her husband’s suggestion, she relaunched and rebranded her eponymous line, Christina Caruso, and its jewelry became available in the fall of 2021.

“I had the know-how. I had the resources. I knew who I wanted to work with in New York. I knew what the collection would look like,” Caruso says. “I wanted the collection to be glamour and luxury but offered at an attainable price point.”

Her work is sold direct to consumer on the brand’s website and by specialty retailers, including Curio at Faena Bazaar in Miami; Wyld Blue, in Montauk, N.Y., and Aspen, Colo.; and Couper online. She also has a collaboration with St. John Knits, which carries Chrisina Caruso pieces in its stores and online.

“It’s like a great red lipstick—it gives you confidence and makes you feel so different,” Caruso says of her jewelry. “I design for the bold, modern woman. She’s not afraid to make heads turn and be the most talked-about woman in the room.”

Top: Christina Caruso has been in the fashion industry for decades and launched her jewelry brand in 2020. (Photos courtesy of Christina Caruso)

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