Diamond designer Edan Twena on making custom jewels for celebs like Shay Mitchell
Toronto jeweller Edan Twena is the one-per-center’s go-to guy for massive, one-of-a-kind rocks. He recently designed socialite Jenna Bitove’s gorgeous engagement ring and has made custom pieces for stars like Shay Mitchell, Marcus Stroman and Justin Bieber’s guitarist. He splits his time between Toronto and Tel Aviv, where he sources stones directly from the diamond exchange—and has tons of crazy stories about ridiculous client requests and some incredibly expensive custom jobs.
Twena started working with his family’s business, JPK Group, which wholesales jewellery to retailers like Walmart and Winners, after graduating form the Richard Ivey School of Business. But he was always more fascinated by higher-end pieces, and when his friends started getting engaged, he started to get calls for custom rings. He launched an Instagram account to showcase his designs (“I got it basically the day it came out,” he says), and the business took off from there.
Ordering pieces from Twena isn’t the same experience as going to a high-end chain like Tiffany’s. For starters, he works directly with dealers in Israel’s diamond exchange (the stones are mined from all over, but the world’s best cutters are in Tel Aviv), and has a limitless supply of stones. “When I get a call, I have the entire exchange at my fingertips—I can find any size, clarity and cut,” he says. Since he cuts out the middle men, he’s also able to charge a lower markup than retail stores. He then custom-makes his pieces in Toronto using a CAD designer and a 3D printer, and delivers them right to his clients’ doorsteps. “I can create literally anything, and the client becomes involved in the process,” says Twena. “Especially when I build engagement rings, it’s important that they get to approve it before I move forward.”
Engagement rings, ranging from 1.5 to 12 carats, are his most popular order. His designs, which consist of ultra-thin halos and dainty bands, always accentuate the size of the stone. “Girls freak out when they see the rings,” he says. “You can spend so much money on a diamond, but it can go to waste with an ugly band.” The biggest diamond he’s sold was a 12-carat cushion that cost six figures, but his clients have all sorts of budgets. “I had a call yesterday with someone who had a $5,000 budget, most of my friends spend between $20,000 to $30,000, and I also get calls for much more expensive ones,” says Twena. Recently, he delivered a five-carat oval ring to someone in Palm Beach who spent somewhere in the six-digit range:
Celebrities have started catching on, too. Two years ago, Twena made Blue Jay Marcus Stroman a customized Jordan necklace. “On the bottom of the sole, the Air Jordan symbol is holding a little diamond,” he says. He never scrimps on packaging, and made him a mini Jordan shoebox to hold the piece:
In 2014, Twena made Shay Mitchell a custom pizza necklace, complete with a mini pizza box case.“People who know me know I like making funny stuff, too,” he says. Mitchell’s post about it went viral. “I started getting orders from all over, from places like Kuwait”:
He also made SNL’s Pete Davidson a diamond-studded watermelon necklace for his daughter:
Twena has made a few pieces for Bieber’s guitarist, Dan Kanter, including a fully pavéd trinity band. They’ve kept in touch: “Bieber’s entire crew was just in Israel last week and we all went out,” says Twena. “I showed them around the city and we had a great time”:
Twena designed Toronto socialite Jenna Bitove’s sparkly new engagement ring with her fiancé Nick Freda. They settled on a three-carat oval that’s completely pavéd. “We’ve been talking about her ring for years, so it was about time he made the move,” says Twena. “It’s very glittery—it suits her personality,” he says:
And of course he knows Drake. “We have a lot of mutual friends. I’ve made pieces for his crew before—including some grills.” (He used to make gold teeth, but when he his business ramped up, he decided to spend his time focusing on rings.) Apparently, Drake buys from a bunch of jewellers and isn’t committed to one guy. “But when he’s ready for a big stone—if he and Rihanna get back together—he can hit me up,” Twena says with a laugh:
His 3D printer makes it easy to design incredibly intricate statement pieces. “The craziest necklace I made was a half-kilo necklace with 30 carats of stones,” he says. “The pendant was a 300-gram monopoly board. It was almost a full kilo of gold”:
He also once made a $300,000 platinum custom-link bracelet for a wealthy Toronto businessman. It had more than 20 carats of stones:
Twena recently got married in Tel Aviv, and designed his bride a beautifully unique ring with a hidden halo on a 45-degree angle. “You can barely see it from the top, but from the sides it has a very understated sparkle,” he says. “I’ve been getting people hitting me up from L.A. wanting a very similar design”:
According to Twena, diamonds can be a decent investment if you buy them right. He sells a number of investment stones, including coloured diamonds. “They’re not big, but they’re super-expensive because they’re so rare,” he says. He recently sold a one-carat pink diamond for $300,000 from Argyle Pink Diamonds in Australia. He says that in the past 30 years, even a one-carat white diamond has gone up in value from about $3,000 to $30,000: