Tuesday, March 3, 2009

RIP Penny Proddow, Jewelry Editor

I did I double-take when I saw this obit this morning on WWD.com. I worked with Penny & Marion on some jewelry books when I was in publishing. Very sad.

Penny Proddow, a jewelry editor, curator and educator, died in her Manhattan home on Saturday at the age of 65.

The cause of death was ovarian cancer, according to Marion Fasel, her business colleague with whom she was a contributing editor of fine jewelry and watches for In Style magazine, as well as co-author of several books.

Born in Washington, D.C., Proddow grew up in Greenwich, Conn., and graduated from Miss Porter’s School in 1961 and Bryn Mawr College in 1965. She began her career in the classics, focusing on the study of Greek and Roman history. She moved to Manhattan in 1967, where she lectured children ages eight to 15 on the classics at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for over 35 years.

In 1967, she met Ralph Esmerian, the third-generation arts and antiquities collector, for whom she helped determine the provenance of over 5,000 cameos in his namesake collection.

“She was a magical person,” said Esmerian, who owns vintage jeweler Fred Leighton. “She spanned worlds and could go from the Renaissance to the ancients. She also spanned the worlds of new designers and new jewelry. With that she retained the marvelous freshness that only children have.”

Martha Nelson, director of Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group and founding editor of In Style, concurred. “Penny was just the kind of person that you dream about meeting in New York City,” said Nelson, who hired Proddow and Fasel at In Style as contributing jewelry editors in 1996. “She took this incredible intellect and intelligence and passion and focused it on jewelry, fashion and style and made it so exciting and so stimulating for everybody.”

Together Proddow and Fasel curated exhibits for the likes of Fred Leighton and also co-authored books on jewelry. On her own, Proddow also wrote children’s books based on the classics.

“She was a great woman,” said Efraim Grinberg, chairman and chief executive of Movado Group Inc., who worked with Proddow since the mid-Nineties. “On top of how nice and sweet she was, she was always discovering trends in jewelry and watches. She had an elegance and class that everyone can look up to.”

Tiffany chairman and ceo Michael J. Kowalski said, “Working with Penny was a joy and an inspiration. Her unrestrained passion for jewelry was always uplifting and never failed to remind us of the beauty and joy that is the heart and soul of what we do.”

Proddow was also known for supporting emerging talent. “She was so enthusiastic and had so much knowledge,” said designer Philip Crangi.

Proddow worked until just a few weeks ago alongside Fasel. “Penny was the most humorous and witty person, and that was how she viewed our work,” said Fasel. “She was the most upbeat person and had the most unique sense of style.”

A private burial for Proddow will take place on Saturday in Nantucket. Donations in Proddow’s name are being accepted at the Development Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A memorial service is being planned. Proddow has no immediate survivors.


SweetPea said...

That's unfortunate about Penny. Welcome back!

BLC :o said...

You're back!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeahhhh. Missed you. Xoxo-BLC

d said...

I am so deeply saddened by the news of Penny Proddow's untimely death. Long long ago I had the good fortune to co-author two books with Penny.
There are certain special people who come into our lives and transform them forever. Penny Proddow was one of those people. She had a marvelous mind with a lyrical sensibility. Working with her was great fun. She will be dearly missed.

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back darling! I hope you are rejuvenated after your time away.
It's so sad about Penny, first cause she was so young. Sad too as it sounds like she was a legend, larger than life who lived a really important and beautiful life.
Maybe d will do her biography? By the by d, what were the books you did together? I'd love to read them.

News Readin' Wife said...

I had the great fortune of getting to know Penny while working in Sotheby's jewelry dept and later at GRAFF.

Her knowledge was extraordinary and it is a great loss to the jewelry world.

On a lighter note, I am so pleased to see you back! You have been sincerely missed in this neck of the woods.