There is a new cathedral on Madison Avenue, one whose hymns are akin to Maria Callas singing “Casta Diva” and whose meditation bells ring from delicate chains hanging from elegant necks. The new Paul Morelli store is like a monastery amongst the bombastic procession of flashy windows on Madison Avenue.
Creativity has been at the center of Paul Morelli’s life for, well, all of it. His father made costumes and he would often help in any way he could. “In those days, they would have models walking around the store, selling their wares,” Morelli recalls. “He would make costumes that had big branches with shoes hanging from them. And that’s sort of how he got into the costume business.”
Morelli does not actually think about creating, it simply comes from within him like a prayer. He is unable to remember what it feels like not to do what he does — he is commanded solely by his artistic volition. At the core of Morelli’s success lies a steadfast commitment to craftsmanship, quality, and integrity. In an industry saturated with mass-produced pieces, he distinguishes his brand by focusing on the artistry behind each creation. It is not merely about making jewelry; it is about constructing wearable pieces of art that tell a story. His early adoption of computer-aided design (CAD) for jewelry, a practice spanning 15 to 20 years, set him apart as a trailblazer. The integration of technology not only streamlined the design process but also allowed for swift iterations, a crucial advantage in a rapidly changing market. “In the ’20s and ’30s there was Van Cleef & Arpels. They had this atelier where they made jewelry,” says Morelli. “It was there they made both the models and jewelry. They sold it out of the same place. It’s kind of what I do.”
With his studio in the very building in Philadelphia where he got his bearings working for his father, making costumes for department stores and the opera, Morelli has mastered the old and the new. His adaptation of the traditional methods of jewelry production alongside new technologies makes for an innovative space with each floor of his workshop serving its own purpose in the line of production.
Morelli declares: “Every woman should have a great hoop earring.” This is a notable testament to his commitment to innovation — the reinvention of the classic hoop earring. An item ubiquitous in every woman’s collection, the hoop earring underwent a transformation with his creativity. Ensuring that the earring points forward when worn, he introduced a subtle yet ingenious tweak that added functionality to aesthetics. This dedication to perfecting even the most classic design reflects the meticulous approach that defines his work. “People say to me, are you going to retire or what?” he says. “From what? Creating? And go fishing or play golf?”