The Switch: At NYCB, Wolf faced long stretches of downtime between seasons. "It was important for me to have something else to get excited about," she says. At first Wolf was simply stringing beads and wrapping wire as a hobby—but in 2003 she managed to land a meeting with a buyer at Barneys New York. "Once I had the attention of a store, I had to go for it. And ballet can be so exhausting that it's smarter to leave while you still love it."
The Plunge: "When I started, every day was a fire drill," recalls Wolf, who counts Julia Roberts and Halle Berry among her customers. "I was completely naive. But when you're totally present and don't have expectations beyond trying your best, you can't get wound up in fear and anxiety. Now I know what to do and when to do it." Next up: a spring line featuring white and cognac diamonds.
The Philosophy: "Women want to create an individual style," Wolf says. "I'll make maybe seven pairs of each earring, or ten of each necklace, then ship them to different cities. I don't want my clients seeing themselves coming and going."
—Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg
From top: Teardrop earrings in 18kt gold with cognac diamonds ($3,890); Bisou ring with white moonstone and diamonds ($3,400); Circular earrings in 18kt gold with amethyst ($1,650); Stacking bangles in 18kt gold set with diamonds ($990 to $2,800); Woven hoop earrings with rose-cut diamonds ($5,900).