Today, the mention of Suzanne Kalan’s name is synonymous with bespoke jewelry design, specifically bewildering baguette diamond creations that have captivated the likes of both international publications and celebrities. For this lucky bazaarite, meeting Suzanne at the recent Jewelry Arabia Kuwait expo was truly a dream come true.
With over 28 years of experience designing fine jewelry, Suzanne Kalan continues to create stunning collections that are both innovative and unique. Her signature design style involves working with 18-karat gold, utilizing custom-cut colorful gemstones as well as artfully working with dramatically placed diamonds to deliver classic pave and baguette diamond designs in a modern light. With several award winning jewelry collections under this designer’s belt for her ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Fireworks Vitrine’ collections, it is Suzanne’s beautiful mind that effectively marries the chaos of scattered baguette diamonds with large custom-cut gemstones.
Suzanne sat down to speak with me, and to also take pause from a very busy and fruitful first day of the Jewelry Arabia Kuwait Expo at the Overdressed Pavilion. Conversing with the designer is easy, as she passionately began to tell me more about the first piece of jewelry that she’s ever designed, “I would work with different wire jewelry and beads, which is very different from my collection! But, there was a defining moment that prompted me to create my own brand. One day, I was standing in a building waiting for the elevator. While I was waiting, I was looking into the window display of a store in the lobby. The owner of the store came out and asked me where I had gotten the jewelry I was wearing, and it just so happened that I was wearing my own designs. He placed an order right then and there. That moment changed my life forever. With the support of my family, I was able to start my own company.”
How did your beautiful journey with jewelry design begin?
My first introduction to jewelry started at a very young age for me. In Armenian and Middle Eastern culture, you’re gifted jewelry the day you’re born. I was given this beautiful rose gold bracelet with pearls and dangling gold hearts. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I still have the bracelet! I remember my mom taking the bracelet from me whenever I would bite the little hearts.My appreciation for art, style and fashion came from my mom. She was a seamstress, and at a young age she would have me design my dresses for events or gatherings. My family has a long history in the jewelry industry. My father owned a jewelry store, and I worked with him closely. He taught me a lot about jewelry and design, but most importantly, he taught me how to run a business.
What inspires your work?
I find inspiration all around me, especially in nature and during my travels around the world. Whether it’s the color of the sun, or the texture of sand, there are a lot of different aspects that influence my designs. Touch and sound really influence my work as well.
Who does Suzanne Kalan design for?
I design for the everyday woman. She is inspirational and has many roles in this fast-paced world. She is classic, edgy and exquisite. I want the women who wear my designs to be able to wear it today, tomorrow and 20 years from now.
You’ve perfected the art of diamond stacking, specially utilizing baguette cut diamonds, why do you love working with this specific cut?
When I am getting ready to design a new collection, I first start by touching, feeling and playing with the stone I’d like to use. I had a couple baguette diamonds at my desk, and I started to think of all the traditional ways baguette diamonds have been used in jewelry. I then started to map the baguette diamonds out on my desk, and found that scattered settings would make the diamonds more interesting and that’s how I started the Fireworks collection! The line has really taken off, and I am continuously expanding the collection. You can say I’m a little obsessed with baguette diamonds!
Can you tell us a little bit more about how your Middle Eastern origins inspire your work?
My Armenian and Lebanese ancestry have definitely influenced my designs. Jewelry is very important in Middle Eastern culture. It’s gifted to you from the day you’re born and until you’re married. Growing up in Lebanon, there was always an appreciation for beauty, art and unique pieces of work. These ideas have always resonated with me and have influenced my designs.
What are your thoughts on Kuwait’s, and the region’s, jewelry customers?
There are so many fantastic artists and designers in Kuwait, so I definitely think that perception has shifted. I have had the chance to live in different regions including Kuwait, Beirut, Montreal and Los Angeles. I love the history, culture and fashion found in Kuwait! There is a true appreciation for handcrafted quality jewelry, and I find that to be true with all our customers in Kuwait.
Your daughter, Patile, also grew up to become a part of the Suzanne Kalan journey. How did this come about?
Patile joined the family business almost five years ago, and it has been so wonderful to have her by my side. She has helped grow the line and has taken a load of the responsibilities off my shoulders! Patile runs production with my husband in our studio in Los Angeles. She also designs the 14-Karat line, KALAN By Suzanne Kalan. She has a unique vision and a younger perspective, which has been a great asset to us, in growing our brand internationally.
Do you feel that you both share the same design ethos?
We share several similarities when it comes to our design approach, especially with our technique. We are both inspired by color, and that’s how we start our design process. I often start with the color of metal, and Patile starts her design process by working with the color of the gemstone.
What’s next for Suzanne Kalan?
I am continuing to expand my Fireworks collection with beautiful statement piece gift sets that include necklaces, earrings and rings. Stay tuned!
For more information about Suzanne Kalan, please visit her website www.suzannekalan.com.