Neil Lane Doesn’t Watch ‘The Bachelor’


Each new addition presented a learning opportunity. “If I bought a little ring with all this Edwardian detail in the platinum, I’d study it for hours with my little 10-power loupe up in my little garret,” he said. “I was on the 10th floor. I had to schlep up there.”

In the ’80s, after years of collecting vintage jewels from antique dealers, Mr. Lane moved to Los Angeles to open up a business of his own. What he found when he arrived were few traces of the Golden Age glamour he’d imagined as an East Coast kid.

At the time, the red carpet was not the widely televised designer-name-dropping opportunity it is today. The first red carpet was only rolled out in 1961, and it took five years for its coverage to be broadcast in color. It wasn’t until E! hired Joan and Melissa Rivers, in 1996, to host its Oscars preshow that the red carpet became a real forum for designer branding and fashion critique, to the delight of viewers at home.

By then Mr. Lane had developed a reputation in the industry, designing engagement rings for young starlets and resetting stones from the ’70s in modern platinum bands. He says that a real turning point was when Renée Zellweger came to his counter in 2001 seeking jewels to wear on the Golden Globes red carpet.

In the intervening years, Mr. Lane took on high-profile custom projects, among them a diamond “M” necklace for Madonna; a marquise-cut engagement ring flanked by smaller pink diamonds for Portia de Rossi from Ellen DeGeneres; and the cushion-cut ring Liam Hemsworth gave to Miley Cyrus when he first proposed. Media and word of mouth have made him one of Hollywood’s favorite jewelers.

Now in his 60s, Mr. Lane oversees an empire that includes his namesake bridal and couture collections, as well as a budget line of wedding rings with Kay Jewelers. To maintain balance in his life, he sticks to a strict morning regimen (“up at 7, breakfast, at the gym by 9, half-hour elliptical, half-hour training, showering and starting my day”). He’s an Aquarius and believes in astrology, not as a series of rigid archetypes, but as an “energetic system” that guides us. He also, as a general rule, does not watch “The Bachelor.” (“I take a peek,” he said. “But no, I don’t have a ‘Bachelor’ party.”)

Perhaps not watching is what’s kept him so optimistic about relationships.

“I do believe love always works out, and that’s part of my thematic thing at the wedding as well,” Mr. Lane said. “It’s all about the love and affection and sharing that people have. And sometimes it doesn’t work out, with all the pretty finery and the lavish or exotic weddings. It just doesn’t. But for a moment in time, there is a real unity between people, there’s a real magnificent energy that comes out of these people that I’m working with. I focus on that.”



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