Proficient in all things shiny and sparkly, Leora Tapper has a passion for curating and designing beautiful jewelry. The owner and estate buyer at West Bloomfield-based Tapper’s Jewelry talks to SEEN about the hottest engagement-ring styles, the one piece of jewelry she could wear forever and the inspiration behind her jewelry line, LKT
By Rachel Schostak
Photography by Allison Farrand
In her role as owner and estate buyer at West Bloomfield-based Tapper’s Jewelry, Leora Tapper spends her days surrounded by shiny, sparkly things — and that’s just fine with her. The 35-year-old Birmingham resident has been enamored with jewelry since her undergrad days at George Washington University, when she took a jewelry-making class and realized she had a talent for creating beautiful pieces.
Hungry to learn more, Tapper enrolled in the Gemological Institute in New York. That’s where she met her now-husband, Tapper’s Jewelry president Mark Tapper, and in 2009, they relocated to Michigan to join the family business. “I love the energy of our growing city — it’s hard to believe it’s the same city I moved to 10 years ago,” says the mom of two, who grew up in New Jersey. “I’ll always be a Jersey girl, but Detroit is a great place to call home.”
1. How did you get started in the jewelry business? I used to make my own jewelry — actual goldsmithing. When I was abroad in Italy during college I took a jewelry-making class, and then another class in New York one summer. I realized I was pretty good at it, so I kept doing it. I would make all the metal, the wiring, set all the stones and do all the soldering, completely from scratch.
I decided I wanted to learn more about stones, so [after college] I enrolled in the Gemological Institute of America. When I graduated, I was lucky to land a job with Oscar Heyman & Bros., one of the finest jewelry manufacturers in the world. The owners there took me under their wing and shared what I needed to know to become successful..
2. You started your own jewelry line, LKT, two years ago. Where do you draw inspiration? The collection is made up of pieces that are wearable, on-trend, and also classic at the same time. [My] designs come from everywhere. A lot are derived from older pieces that are recreated to be more modern. You can learn so much from estate pieces — there are centuries of amazing ideas to build on. Even though my collection is modern, what’s old will always become new again. It’s just a matter of time — and a little intuition.
3. Why did you decide to launch your own brand? I felt we had the capability to do better [in terms of] manufacturing, pricing, and design [versus] other things that are offered to our community. We source all of the diamonds ourselves and make our jewelry. Pieces range from $500 to $25,000, and it’s the best design, workmanship and pricing out there.
4. What do you love most about your job? Working with family. There’s something special about working with people that you trust 100% and have a deeper relationship with. You never have to question anyone’s motives and you all have the same greater goal.
5. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, can you share some great gift ideas? It’s such a beautiful moment when a dad brings home a Valentine’s Day gift for his wife and his daughter — and our kids’ jewelry section is bursting with personality. I love hearts all year round and never thought they should just be for Valentine’s Day. Think anything from a layering accent piece to a statement ring.
Now onto style…
6. Head to toe outfit details of what you are wearing from the photo shoot?
Jewelry: Emerald cut 14k engagement ring, current sell price; Alessa 18K gold diamond bangle bracelet, $6,995; Alessa 18K gold diamond bracelet, $9,995; 18K multi-color sapphire ring, $875; David Yurman white gold sapphire pinky ring, $3,900; David Yurman 18K cuff bracelet, $5,700; Gucci 60mm 18K hoop, $1,690; Julez Bryant 14Kr bangle, $10,652; LKT Bridal collection 18k eternity band, $23,949; LKT collection 14kr bangle, $4,780; LKT collection marquise diamond solitaire yellow gold necklace, $4,800; 14ky 18in. flat link necklace, $2,261; Rolex Day-Date 40 in everose with chocolate dial, $37,550 all from Tapper’s.
7. If you could wear one piece of jewelry for the rest of your life, what would it be? My wedding band is so sentimental to me. I believe the best jewelry always has a deeper meaning to the person who wears it. But for a catch-all solution, diamond studs are a great everyday earring that also can dress up any outfit at the same time. There’s nothing that doesn’t go with a great pair of studs!
8. Speaking of wedding rings…this is the month of love. What are the most popular engagement-ring styles? The thinnest bands are very in style right now, either in a solitaire or with tiny diamonds down the shank. We’re also seeing a lot more exploration of different-color metals , like rose gold and yellow gold. Today’s brides are much more creative in how they express their commitment, and I love it!
9. What are three words to describe your style? Modern and classic with a slight edge.
10. Who or what inspires your style? I LOVE estate jewelry and older pieces — literally centuries of amazing ideas to build on.
11. What’s your current “must-have” item? An everyday bangle or stacking rings.
12. If you could be any gemstone, which would it be? I would be a sapphire, because it comes in every color!
13. How would you describe your accessory style? Layering or simple? Layering, layering, layering. I don’t have jewelry that sits in the box. I rotate regularly and really try to wear everything.
Local Love List…
14. Are you originally from Detroit? What do you love most about our community? I am from New Jersey! But sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see what’s so great about Metro Detroit. I love the energy of our growing city. It’s hard to believe it’s the same city I moved to 10 years ago. Our community deserved its renaissance. I’ll always be a Jersey girl, but Detroit is a great place to call home.
15. Your go to for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Naked Fuel for breakfast during the week or Phoenicia on Sundays for brunch. They have the best brunch. Steve’s Deli or Loya for lunch. I love to cook and I cook most dinners but if we go out, I love Bella Piatti or Selden Standard.
16. When not working – where can we find you? Home with my kids.
17. Favorite quote or words to live by? Family is everything.