The insider: Jewellery designer Suzanne Kalan
The Instagram page of the Los Angeles-based brand Suzanne Kalan is a pictorial paradise for the jewellery connoisseur. Scroll down and you’ll see picture upon picture of dreamy gemstones stacked on fingers; milky mint pear-shaped chalcedony stones set in yellow gold; white sapphires, clear as glass, bordered with halos of crystals; and diamond baguettes worked into delicate rose shapes. And enough opal, topaz and rhodonite stones for all.
Displays such as these will speak to the heart of any woman with a weak spot for accessories, let alone fine jewellery. Designer Suzanne Kalan’s team – which includes some of her own family members – has just moved offices in Los Angeles, and the plan is to incorporate these images into the decor of the new showroom. “We’re going to put our Instagram pictures all over the walls,” says Kalan.
Dressed in black from head-to-toe, Kalan, with her shoulder-length waves and wispy fringe, is every inch the jet-setting jewellery designer. Her structured top features tufts of black feathers, and her hands and feet are manicured in shiny black, too. Naturally, a large pendant surrounded by diamonds hangs at her neck, and her wrists are decorated with her signature baguette diamond bands. “I want my jewellery to be passed on to daughters and granddaughters, and I want it to be used. I don’t want it put in a safe and taken out every couple of years – even if it’s a bigger piece with more diamonds, you can wear it with a pair of jeans,” she says.
Kalan has fine jewellery in her blood – her father was a jeweller – and her husband, a diamond setter, works closely with her in the business. When she first started, she used silver and Swarovski crystals in her designs. “Back then fine jewellery wasn’t really fun. It was so traditional,” she says. However, the brand’s peppy use of colour and innovative settings have given fine jewellery an enchanting uplift.
Kalan’s 27-year-old daughter, Patile, which is the Armenian word for snowflake, handles the brand’s 14-carat line. “Ever since she was little she wanted to touch the beads, and help with packing and production. Then three years ago, she came in full-time, took over production and then started designing her own collection,” says Kalan. “Each of us does our own thing – we all respect each other and everyone stays in their territory of the business. Knock on wood, all these years have been great,” she says, before tapping her fist on the small wooden table in front of her.
Kalan’s visit to her Dubai stockist, S*uce Rocks, comes after a buying trip to Hong Kong and from here, she’ll be heading to London for a press breakfast at Harrods. “We also just got into Net-a-porter,” she says. “I travel a lot now that the kids are older – I’m probably gone at least a week each month.”
After winning the Best Diamonds design award at last year’s prestigious Couture show in Las Vegas, Kalan’s Fireworks collection, featuring delicate, hand-picked baguettes eclectically arranged into chokers, bangles, earrings and rings, have become extremely popular. “A lot of people are copying our stuff exactly, and that’s been unpleasant,” says Kalan. “But we’re living with it, because the woman who wants the real thing will not buy a copy version.”
One of the brand’s diamond dealers even thanked Kalan for bringing baguette diamonds back into fashion, claiming that the 3,000 carats that had been sitting unsold for years were quickly picked up after Kalan’s Fireworks collection debuted.
“I like the shape of the baguette – I like clean lines,” says Kalan. “If you had looked at the old traditional baguette settings, you would think it would be an old, mature woman who is going to wear this. But now, it’s edgy and trendy; it’s the same stone, it’s just how you use it,” she adds.
Kalan’s baguette compositions have definite appeal – so much so that the rocks were worn by Rihanna this September at her fragrance launch in Brooklyn, New York. The singer accessorised her pink Vivienne Westwood dress with two chokers by Suzanne Kalan. You can follow suit – they retail at Dh70,000 each, and are available at S*uce Rocks now.