Virtual Coffee With Eva and Ava Bai
We always pinch ourselves when reflecting on the opportunity to work with Eva and Ava Bai, the co-founders—who also happen to be twin sisters—of Vale Jewelry. Their designs, which are cast and set in NYC's diamond district, are dreams come true.
Having just received a new shipment of gemstone rings from the creative duo, we thought it was about time to catch up.
What led you to launch Vale?
We were searching desperately for a jewelry brand out there that we would love to wear every day, not necessarily special occasion jewelry, but pieces that would feel like second skin. There weren’t many brands out there that were made locally or felt like they vibed with our aesthetic while still being relatively affordable. So we went and made our own!
How would you describe the experience of co-founding and operating a business with your twin sister?
Starting any business is a challenge but doing it with a sibling comes with its own unique challenges. The plus side baked into that dynamic is a chance to work with someone you unconditionally love and enjoy spending time with. You can really hash out issues with someone you are super close to but it can also lead to epic arguments so we make every effort to separate our personal lives from our work lives.
What is your favourite part of jewelry design and running a business?
There is absolutely a sense of joy and freedom in being able to create something that you’ve dreamed of in your head and turning it into something real, defined, physical and that ultimately is a fun adornment. That part never gets old. Even if the piece doesn’t quite come out looking like what you expected.
Being based in the diamond district in Manhattan, you have some of the world’s most beautiful gems at your fingertips. How do you decide which stones make the cut (so to speak)?
Colorful gems have always been fascinating to us. When we were young, our parents used to take us to markets, sometimes they even worked there, and for a bunch of kids with way too much energy, having the ability to run around from stall to stall, seeing things that always felt new and interesting, really left a lasting impression. We get the same thrill looking at new stones, new cuts, new shapes.
New York must be such an inspiring place to work. Are there certain places or people in the city you find particularly inspiring?
No doubt, it’s such a joy and a constant surprise to be surrounded by a vibrant and truly mixed community, not just other artists, but everyone expressing themselves in their own way, mish-moshed into a loud and colorful mess. It’s endlessly inspiring. We work with stylists and designers that are a source of inspiration.
Being able to design your clients’ dream engagement rings is such a unique opportunity. Do you have any memorable engagement/proposal stories?
There’s been so many incredibly romantic stories but one of our favorites was a proposal on a hot air balloon over the Serengeti when our client Matt proposed to his partner Alix with an emerald ring. The sun was setting and just the thought of a migration of millions of gazelles, zebras and wildebeests racing across the dry, dusty plains sounds like something out of a movie.
We know it’s like picking a favourite child—but if you had to pick only one piece to wear from your collection which would it be?
We’re still reaching for one of our classic diamond slice necklaces, layering that with our rosary chains and mixing that up with some vintage link chains. Our new collection of amulets and medallions are perfect to dress up an otherwise always-black NYC wardrobe. Gold works wonders on everything!
Now that the world is opening up, where’s the first place you plan on travelling?
It’s always safety first in our book, so no trips yet, the only ones we’ve taken are through the pleasures of Anthony Bourdin travelogues and travel shows in French because we’re learning the language and it’s a nice way to practice listening comprehension while dreaming of places we would visit when we finally get that booster shot.
White Gold, Yellow or Rose Gold?
Yellow gold and platinum.
Diamonds or pearls?
Diamonds everyday with pearls thrown in on the occasions you want something more retro and more lady-like.
Stacking or statement rings?
We would probably say a mix because why choose when curating a set is always more interesting.
Studs or hoops?
All depends on the mood! But hoops for beach vacays is a must.
Burgers or pizza?
Both, of course!
Tropical vacation or snowy retreat?
Tropical most of the time but, every once in a while, a snowy hike is all you need to refresh your outlook.
Sneakers or stilettos?
Sneakers easily, though the irony is that we own a lot more stilettos than we do sneakers.