By Marion Fasel
Updated Oct 09, 2014 @ 1:31 pm
Courtesy of Irene Neuwirth

In this weekly feature, InStyle’s jewelry and watch editor Marion Fasel shares the inside scoop on the treasures that are on her radar. Look for it every Thursday on What’s Right Now, and follow Fasel on Instagram (@marionfasel) to see more gems that rock her world.

Irene Neuwirth’s charming and luxurious new dog pendant necklaces have an origin story with twists and turns involving old world craft, a good luck charm and a celebrity intervention of sorts by Lena Dunham. It’s a new look for the Los Angeles based designer who has bejeweled countless celebrities including Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Lawrence. She sat down with InStyle exclusively to tell us all about it:

You are known for bold jewels with magnificent gemstones in a range of colors. How did you make the leap from those creations to the new collection of pendants with dog portraits?

I wanted to make myself a good luck charm. I met this amazing master craftsman from Germany who did the old-style reverse carved hand painted crystal pendants—a technique where they carved the back of a crystal with a portrait, then paint it creating a three-dimensional appearance. It is almost a lost craft that was popular during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. In the past the pieces were called Sporting Motif Jewels because people had bracelets with multiple crystals of horses, hounds, and foxes in England.

Inspired by the vintage designs, first I asked the craftsman to make me a pendant of the horse I had when I was a child. We worked back and forth to make it a little impressionistic, loose—more playful than designs done in the traditional style. When it was finished, I loved it so much I asked him to create a pendant of my Labradoodle Teddy from a picture I have of him decked out in my jewels. When he was done I knew I had my good luck charm. I set it in a gold pendant with gems and started wearing it on a chain (photo below). I thought that was pretty much the end of the experience.

What changed your mind to transform the concept into a collection?

We sent out “save the date” invitations for the opening of my first store on Melrose Place in Los Angeles last month with the original painting of my horse. When Lena Dunham saw it she contacted me and said, “I don’t know what it’s going to take but I want my dog transformed into one of these portraits.” It was funny because I had already done my pendant of Teddy. I sent a picture of that to her and she asked if I could create one of her adorable dog Lamie. She wanted to wear it on the national tour for her book Not That Kind of Girl. It was a super-rush but we got it done (pictured above).

So, in no time you went from your good luck charm to adding these special commission pieces to your collection.

When I was wearing my Teddy pendant people were loving it. I guess I should have realized all along, because I adore my dog so much--people are truly infatuated with their animals. I could not resist making the jewels part of the collection.

To order your own dog pendant, contact the Irene Neuwirth boutique (323-285-2000).