Words Doris Chevron Photography Michael Mundy
Going to the countryside to work can easily turn into an exercise in futility. Pedro Boregaard, a sixty-something Manhattan transplant who never let go of his boyish looks, understands this well. “We all build studios in our country homes and we never use them because we are too exhausted or too distracted or just want to engage in the peace and the quiet around us,” he muses.
Boregaard, acknowledged by many in the industry as one of the world’s most talented jewelry designers, likes to sit on his front porch and watch his bees buzz by, the cardinals at play, the white tail deer nurse their offspring. He observes eagles and owls—and his cats’ efforts to chase them. “Just about every creature you can imagine walks, hobbles or flies by.” Including moths. Boregaard, who headed Tiffany’s Manhattan design studio for years, was inspired by Sullivan County’s nocturnal critters to create a spectacular series of moths. Among them is the “Bumble Moth,” a flawless 114-carat moonstone inset with a large ruby as the head and 66 brilliant-cut diamonds set in dark oxidized silver for the top wings and in bright platinum for the lower ones.
In 2004, Boregaard left behind a penthouse studio on 53rd and Madison to make his home in the country. A German friend paved the way by taking him to a meeting of the Historical Society in Narrowsburg. “I liked what I saw and heard. A few weeks later, I came up again and met my house.” He compares the two-story building overlooking the flats to a treehouse that is connected to the village on one side but looks out into “absolute wilderness” on the other.
The road to Narrowsburg for Boregaard started in Munich, where he was born. He remembers as a kid finding joy in stringing brightly colored glass beads into bracelets while other kids cuddled dolls or toy bears. He later apprenticed with Hemmerle, the prolific Munich jeweler.
Adulthood took him to Nottingham in the UK, where he spent time mastering his craft before moving on to—and diving into—the world of Manhattan. Once he decided on the country as his future base, he started a trial period renting from the owners who in turn were trying to find out if they liked it in Texas. They did, and he liked Narrowsburg, and a year later Boregaard bought “this former starter home” not far from the shores of the Delaware.
The changes he made to the house were rather subtle and influenced by the sparseness that came with growing up in postwar Germany and by his discerning eye for detailed perfection. He accentuated the windows in a muted shade of turquoise. “In all cultures, wherever you go, blue is a color that guards against evil spirits. I might have chosen green, but I did not want to be in competition with nature.”
A wood-burning stove set against a backdrop of oversized slate tiles became the center of the living room. An old wooden mantle simulates a fireplace in the reading nook. The jeweler brought his oak furniture with him from England. Their graceful severity is offset by a beautiful menagerie of small, whimsical objects, including old farmers’ tools—an eclectic mix if there ever was one. Among them is the only piece of jewelry his paternal grandmother ever wore, made out of big glass beads.
The back terrace is paved with perfectly honed stones Boregaard finds along the river while walking his dog, Franzl, an adorable German Shepherd mix that loves to snuggle like a cat. Boregaard hauled the stones up over many years, piece by piece, and set them in a perfect geometric circle.
With the same patience, the jeweler huddles over the wax models that precede his pieces, and that sometimes involve destruction. “I tear everything up until it’s right. That can take days.” Sometimes, he confesses, he has even destroyed finished pieces. He does not conceive them with a certain woman—or man—in mind. “I make the sculpture I like, and then look for the person to wear it.” He instinctively knows when a client enters his store that this person is a perfect fit for a particular piece. Convincing this client requires a bit of charm, which is a natural extension of Boregaard’s personality.
The most important woman in his life is his mother, Wilma, a former principal dancer with Germany’s great Berliner Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Every morning at 8 am, Boregaard is on the phone to Munich where the 90-year-old—who has managed to keep her formidable style and her forceful voice but is losing her eyesight—still resides. Her mantra for her son growing up: If you don’t like something, change it.
In 2008, Boregaard bought his building on Main Street in Narrowsburg. His shop occupies a structure that had once served as a bank, equipped with the original walk-in safe that now harbors many of the jeweler’s treasures. Trending are the Profile Stack rings in colored sapphires (anything but blue) and in tones according to the season, and his bespoke pieces. People come to Narrowsburg from faraway places to buy Boregaard. They love the casualness he can inject into elements that in less skillful hands often look ostentatious.
Boregaard is convinced that his jewels are not for everybody. But he does not care. “A lot of my clients say that they don’t even like to wear jewelry, and then they leave here with one, two or three pieces which they wear for the rest of their lives.”