Tennis bracelet: Love Tennis by hazel jewelry flatters fierce US Open fans, competitors
BY ANDY FRYE For Sun-Times Media September 5, 2012 2:18PM
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Updated: September 5, 2012 2:23PM
Jewelry designer Hazel Nussbaum has been in love with tennis her entire life. She played pretty consistently as a child and even worked hard enough on her game to make her high school team and to take it to the next step: playing throughout her college days at Manhattan College, in Riverdale, NY. However, it wasn't until she was an adult that the tennis bug bit her hard.
"As a child I played tennis but didn't have formal lessons per se," said Nussbaum, a resident of West Chester, NY. "I joined the USTA and took lessons to improve as an adult, and that's where it really became a more than a simple hobby."
Nussbaum was so good that she competed three times nationally: twice in mixed doubles and later played at Indian Wells in the amateur 4.5-level competition. It was around that time that she arrived on an idea.
"I've always loved nice jewelry as most women do, and I remember trying but failing to find a fine tennis-related piece, everywhere I looked." Nussbaum said. "You can find jewelry for $30 or less at a lot of places, but I wanted something that I thought reflected my style and also the passion that I have for the game." From this Love Tennis by hazel jewelry was born.
Nussbaum's Love Tennis by hazel features four jewelry lines, each with its own style that takes after one of the four major tennis Grand Slam tournaments. Each line consists of necklace pieces, bracelets and other pieces in the contour and design of rackets, balls and tennis shapes such as the court. Each line, Nussbaum said, to be classy enough for dressy outfits but also, as wearable art, to compliment a woman's tennis outfits. Love Tennis features some men's pieces such as cufflinks, too.
The New York line, which takes influence from the US Open, for example, is made up of mostly silver and gold pieces whose style is bold and unapologetic. Meanwhile, the Paris line, influenced by the French Open, is made up of more petit, dainty pieces that channels what Nussbaum calls the "romantic, artsy, and slightly whimsical feeling that's very Parisian" in nature.
Starting next year, Love Tennis will release its two other lines. The Melbourne Collection is edgy, off the cuff and slightly more masculine, and it will combine silver and leather among other materials. June 2013 will see Nussbaum's final match point in the London Collection, a very stately and royal line of jewelry pieces with classic designs combining silver and pearls.
While much of Love Tennis by Hazel's jewelry is constructed of sterling silver, everything can be made in yellow, white gold or platinum by custom order. With a background in brand management at a major Fortune 500 company, Nussbaum used her business sense to approach this new venture.
"I knew it wasn't going to be just me in my basement at home putting jewelry together," Nussbaum said. Instead, she searched the US and talked with some of the most seasoned jewelry makers to help her deploy her design ideas into a top quality product. "It was very important to me to have Love Tennis be made in the US," she said, and after talking with the best in the industry, Nussbaum found a group in Rochester, NY to construct her designs and bring them to life.
Altogether, Nussbaum feels that her four distinct lines offer a wide spanning array of style with all pieces under $400 each, most of which are in the $150 to $200 range. Her primary goal has always been to provide tennis-loving women with classic tennis jewelry that they are proud to wear.
"As a tennis player, I encounter a lot of women who are wearing Stella McCartney for Adidas or Lululemon clothing that can go for $80-120 just for a shirt," she said. "And unlike clothes, which can become dated even before the season is over, classic and iconic jewelry never goes out of style."
So far, Nussbaum's love for tennis has been a hit. This summer at the New Haven Open, in Connecticut, each of the quarterfinalists, including 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitová, received Love Tennis's Racket Icon necklace from the Paris collection. While attending, Love Tennis by hazel's booth took a ton of orders from the tournament's fans and hardened tennis enthusiasts.
"I've been asked if I'm going to expand into other sports, which is a great idea. But tennis is my passion, and so I think it makes sense to stick with tennis," Nussbaum said. "For now, I want to express my passion for tennis and give other women who love the sport a necklace that will be relevant forever."