Candy coated couture: Greenpoint jeweler crafts wares from fruit, candy

Candy coated couture: Greenpoint jeweler crafts wares from fruit, candy
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A Greenpoint jewelry studio is taking a page from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Every spare inch of the Glitterlimes workshop is filled with boxes, bags, and Tupperware containing fruit, candy, and snacks — drawn from all over the world. And those goodies serve as the raw materials for necklaces and earrings that look simply delicious.

You can’t eat the trinkets, but they are made with tons of tasty morsels.

“There’s a Japanese food website where you can get Japanese groceries — they have hard candy with teeny pictures of cherry blossoms, Samurai, Kabuki faces,” said Debbie Tuch, the bubbly designer behind Glitterlimes. “Japan and Barcelona have the coolest candy.”

The Glitterlimes line of no-longer-edible accessories came from a successful experiment with dehydrated lime slices and glittered resin, giving birth to a whole slew of fruit and candy wearables that not only retain their natural juicy appearance — but sparkle, too.

When Tuch founded the company in 1996, she initially favored using citrus fruits such as limes, lemons, oranges, and pomelos. Since then, her range of jewelry has expanded to include the likes of pears, star fruit, kiwano melon, and even vegetables such as the porous lotus root.

Plus, Tuch constantly keeps her eyes peeled for new materials that would work as jewelry, scouring conventions such as the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago.

“The event is crazy,” she says. “You can get anything from Peanut Chews to Peeps to Godiva to artisan bacon-chocolate, or snacks like Lays potato chips to some crazy little cracker that no one’s heard of before.”

Seeing Glitterlimes grow is a sweet dream come true for Tuch, who has been making jewelry since she was thirteen.

She never imagined celebrities would one day wear her work. Tennis star Venus Williams appeared on the cover of Time Magazine during the 2001 US Open wearing a pair of miniature lime earrings. Legendary songstress, Madonna, ordered Glitterlimes goods to give to her crew on the “Hard Candy Tour.” Just last winter, Lady Gaga unveiled a pop-up shop at Barneys carrying Glitterlimes jewelry. Tuch had to get extra hands on board to make 4,500 pieces of jewelry out of glimmering rock candy, rainbow swirled lollipops, and gummy Cokes.

But the company hasn’t come this far without a few sticky situations.

For instance, Tuch had to learn how to deal with an unwanted fan base — bugs.

That challenge only led Tuch to use a special dehydrator to eliminate moisture, resulting in extremely durable and waterproof jewelry that remains surprisingly lightweight.

Most recently, Tuch’s jewelry line was the highlight of a Valentine’s Day trunk show at the Brooklyn Museum, and earned a slot in the museum’s shop — proving sweet things never go out of style.

Glitterlimes at the Brooklyn Museum Store [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Crown Heights, (718) 638–5000, www.brooklynmuseum.org], and Kaleidoscope Toy Store [8722 Third Ave. between 87th and 88th streets, (718) 491–2051, www.glitterlimes.com].