Manhasset native Jean Prounis left for Skidmore College in Sarasota Springs to study biology and came home with a studio art degree focused on jewelry and metalsmithing.
“I had always loved working in a research lab, but it never really felt compatible with me and my character,” Prounis said. “I understood logically as a high schooler that it would be a good career path and economical, but sometimes that doesn’t work if you’re not passionate.”
Prounis, 24, who now lives in the West Village, launched her fine jewelry line, Prounis Jewelry, last October and was picked up by Williamsburg boutique Catbird, where some of her pieces are sold.
Prounis works mostly with 22-karat gold and said her pieces range from $295 for single stacker earrings to about $20,000 but average around $2,500.
The daughter of Michael and Charlene Prounis of Plandome Manor, Prounis said throughout high school, she spent her free time taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology and perusing the Americana Manhasset shops.
“The Americana Manhasset was so great place to be exposed to design and designers,” Prounis said. “I remember going there every week as a high schooler just so I could see the latest clothes and fashions.”
Prounis said she finds the goldsmithing processes like chain making and granulation of tiny decorative gold balls meditative.
Of all the aspects of her company, she said, she is most thrilled about the sustainability in her pieces.
“That was great exposure to the fine jewelry world because it is a totally different world from costume jewelry,” Prounis said. “It’s more sustainable and the processes are less wasteful. I know where all my stones are sourced from, I make all the gold myself, I work only with recycled gold and everything is made in New York.”
Prounis said she thanks her parents for her drive to branch out and start her own business.
“Both my parents are entrepreneurs, and they’ve always been inspiring to me about how if you have a passion, it is feasible if you put in the work and do your own thing,” Prounis said.
After the launch, Prounis’ mother hosted a trunk show at her home and was overwhelmed by the support of her friends and neighbors.
“I had so much love and support from friends and family of the neighborhood, and that always motivates me to keep going,” Prounis said. “I am thankful for Manhasset in helping me get where I am going.”