Pnina Tornai is living her own American dream and sharing it with others. The Israeli-born fashion designer creates sumptuous wedding gowns and accessories to make everyone feel special on their big day. Now, she's launched her first official fashion jewelry collection with Jared, so everyone can sparkle no matter the occasion.
“These jewels are a piece of me," Tornai says, "and my heart is so full now that I can share this piece of me with you.”
Tornai sees the beauty of a necklace and the elegance of a great gown as a source of strength and empowerment for the wearer. She got her start crafting wedding gowns in her own small shop in Israel. A feature in the Israeli newspaper brought a flurry of bridal requests, and her persistent efforts were eventually noticed by Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City.
Carrying the largest selection of bridal gowns and accessories in the world, Kleinfeld is the shop featured on TLC's hit reality show Say Yes to the Dress, and Tornai has now featured in all 19 seasons as one of Kleinfeld's top-selling designers. The new collection of Jared jewelry is a continuation of Tornai's efforts to bring beauty and confidence to all. Offering bold yet elegant necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets designed to make your heart soar, Tornai’s collection is very personal for her, and now it can be yours.
We connected with Tornai to ask about her experience on Say Yes to the Dress, her new jewelry collection with Jared, her connection to jewelry and fashion, and more.
How were you introduced to the empowering nature of fashion and jewelry?
I have always been drawn to beautiful things and have always loved creating. Throughout my life, even in my lowest moments, I always expressed myself through fashion and took comfort in the way it made me feel. I ended up starting my business at a time when I needed to support myself and found myself drawn to what I know best—fashion and self-expression. Fashion was my way of moving forward, and I discovered that the feeling of power and confidence it gave me was a feeling I could give to others through my creations.
What have you learned from being on Say Yes to the Dress and getting to connect with brides?
Say Yes to the Dress has brought me recognition in 140 countries around the world, and it allows me to share my message of love not only with my brides but also with everyone watching the show. But my job, whether it’s at Kleinfeld, at my atelier in Israel, or elsewhere in the world—with or without cameras—is to be there for my brides at this very special time in their lives and to fulfill the purpose I am meant to serve. Sometimes that means helping my bride see how beautiful she is when she never thought of herself as beautiful. Occasionally, that means telling the bride something important I see about her relationship with her fiancé or her loved ones that she needs to hear in that moment, whether it’s good or bad.
Just about a month ago, a bride came in with her father, and he was so supportive. He was arranging her train for her and telling her how beautiful she was. He reminded me of my own late father. The bride told me that her sister couldn’t be there to shop with her because she was just about to give birth, and her mother was in the hospital struggling with a health issue, and she had really wanted them to be there to help her find her dress. I told her that I truly believed that her mother would recover—but that she was meant to choose her gown with her father. It was so clear that he was the one who was meant to accompany her for this part of her journey.
Can you tell us more about your new jewelry collection with Jared and the inspiration behind it?
Collaborating with the Jared team over the past year or so on my women’s engagement rings, anniversary bands, and then the men’s rings has been such a wonderful experience. The Jared team truly understands and embraces my vision. Creating a fashion jewelry collection in partnership with Jared was a natural continuation of that, especially since I have been designing jewelry for myself and my clients for years. Each piece in the collection feels like a piece of me, and each has its own special meaning. It means so much to me to finally share these jewels with the world. Jewelry is such a wonderful way to celebrate milestones and special moments in life, and I can’t wait to see more of those special moments celebrated with my designs.
Are there particular pieces in your collection that served as inspiration when creating your own line?
A large portion of my fashion jewelry collection is based on jewels I have designed for myself over the years and wear regularly. The lace ring, for example, is an exact copy of the original I created for myself, inspired by the beauty of the lace fabrics I use in my bridal and evening gown collections. We also created a large black diamond hamsa just like mine, as well as a smaller white diamond version for those who prefer more delicate jewelry.
Which piece is your favorite from the collection and why?
The jewels in this collection are my babies, and it is so hard to pick a favorite! They each have their own special meaning for me, but I do especially love the rose ring. It is based on the first ring I ever designed, inspired by a real rose from my mother’s garden. She always grew roses herself and took such good care of them, and the rose ring reminds me of her.
What other projects are you currently working on?
Right now, I am working on my new 2022 couture collection! Designing my couture gowns is always exciting but also challenging, because I always want to outdo myself every year with a collection even more spectacular than the one before. I am also working on new ring styles for my bridal and men’s ring collections, and some other exciting projects that I can’t share yet.
What is your advice for someone that wants to work in the fashion industry?
The most important thing is to believe in yourself and to love who you are. I am always my own toughest critic, but I also know that my calling is to make brides’ dreams come true. Even when I hit roadblocks on my journey to where I am today, I knew that I had something unique to bring to the world. If you never give up on yourself, you will get to where you are meant to be.
Photography by: Courtesy of Jared