Discover the world of Julie Romanenko, owner and designer of Just Jules LLC, whose passion for art and fine jewelry has shaped her stunning creations. From playing dress-up with her grandmother’s pearls to her journey as a jewelry designer, Julie’s deep connection to jewelry as a symbol of family, celebration, and history shines through in her sophisticated and whimsical designs.
With pieces ranging from everyday casual to extraordinary and lavish, Julie’s designs have captured the attention of peers, editors, and collectors alike. Just Jules has famous fans like Geena Davis, Ashley Judd, and Steven Tyler. She’s been featured in InStyle and JCK; she recently won the Editor’s Choice in the Colored Stones category of JCK’s 2023 Jewelers’ Choice Awards.
We spoke with Julie and learned more about her design inspiration, career, and experiences working in the New York Diamond District.
You started Just Jules in 1991. What is the inspiration behind your collections?
Just Jules, in the past few years, has really been redefined in two very different collections. One is with my Art Deco vintage-inspired pieces. This collection uses actual art deco vintage pieces that are recreated into new updated pieces of jewelry and art deco inspiration in new creations. Most of these pieces are in white gold, or mixed white and yellow.
The other collection is the yellow gold, colored tone collection. This is really all about the yummy gemstones I have collected and continue to collect. Each piece is a limited edition or one-of-a-kind, and each design is for that particular stone. This collection tends to be a bit more organic and natural.
Where do I begin? I started in the shop of a large engagement ring manufacturer, and the lessons I learned there are invaluable. From a technical standpoint, I learned the process of production and how to create a piece from soup to nuts in the most efficient way.
I also learned from the most awful people I worked with, how NOT to be as a boss/manager. I learned how important positive communication is and how to surround myself with the best, most creative people I can and appreciate them. From there, I went to the streets (47th Street) and learned how to sell!
I’ve only been an AGS member for two years and am still recovering from my second Conclave. To be honest, after my first Conclave, I didn’t really get “it” and wondered if I missed out on drinking the Kool-Aid? Fast forward to now…I get “it.” I think what has been most meaningful are the people I have met and the conversations I have had, mostly at Conclave but also via email throughout the year.
The level of welcoming to a new member was truly astonishing. I am much shyer than people would think, and walking into a room of people by myself is very uncomfortable for me. This group made me feel like a family member. I was part of the AGS Suppliers’ Showcase both years and made great new contacts at this event. It is such a lovely way to showcase my jewelry collection and be able to introduce it to new prospective retailers in such a laid-back setting.
Along with the engagement ring I created, I wear my mother’s and paternal grandmother’s diamond eternity bands. My paternal grandmother was built nothing like me, and I never thought it would fit, but genetics are pretty amazing, and it fits like it was made for me!
On my right hand, I wear my maternal grandmother’s engagement ring. I removed the center diamond for my aunt to have in a necklace and replaced it with an emerald. All of these beloved treasures I wear daily, and they remind me of the amazing women who raised and loved me.