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Cummings was born in Klagenfurt, Austria in 1944 but raised in America from the age of three after re-locating with her family in 1947. She studied art in Italy and jewellery in Germany, graduating from Zeichenakademie with a degree in goldsmithing and gemmology.
After moving to New York she joined Tiffany & Co. in 1968, working under the guidance of Donald Claffin for several years before launching her first full collection under her own name in 1975. She remained with Tiffany until 1984 during which time she created many beautiful jewels, predominantly in yellow gold and typically featuring inlaid gem materials such as lapis lazuli, jade and mother of pearl as well as coral, wood and opal. She has commented that she frequently drew inspiration from nature, in particular the sea, flora and wildlife, epitomised by one her best loved designs, the gold Rose Petal necklace and earring suite that are remarkable in their life-like form and details. She left Tiffany in 1984 and remains one of very few named jewellery designers to work with the firm, others being Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger and perhaps most famously, Elsa Peretti.
Later that year she launched her eponymous business in partnership with her husband of fourteen years, Bruce Cummings a gemmologist who had also worked for Tiffany. In doing so, she gave herself creative freedom and began working with a wider range of materials, particularly silver, and across more genres including tableware and accessories. She opened her first ‘Angela Cummings Fine Jewelry Boutique’ within the department store Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue and the success of this soon secured her further openings in Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her early collections included a wide range of pieces using gems such as black opals, South Sea pearls, black jade and diamonds with nature inspired motifs, inlay work and a mixture of both gold and silver. Prices for her pieces were now much more diverse and ranged from under $100 to in excess of $100,000. She was very keen to democratise her work and make it affordable in some way to everyone, as such some designs were produced in a range of materials to fit different price points.
Her designs were popular and business was successful with Cummings going on to open further boutiques both in America and Japan. She partnered with various other companies to produce accessories such as the fashion brand Candie’s for whom she created shoe accessories in aid of the American Cancer Society. For Estée Lauder she designed a limited edition compact for solid perfume that could also be worn as a pendant and later she worked with the television channel QVC to design a range of silver jewellery for sale on the show. She retired in 2003 and closed her business and all boutiques, moving to Utah with her family. However ten years later she was tempted back into the jewellery world to create a collection in collaboration with pearl specialists Assael. The Angela Cummings Collection for Assael consists of 25 pieces of pearl jewellery set with diamonds in platinum and gold that Cummings describes designing as “a lot of fun”.
Both her signed pieces for Tiffany & Co. created during the 70s and 80s and also her own subsequent work remain highly collectible, admired for their beauty, comfort and recognisable style which Cummings has perfected over a lifetime of designing.