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Designing Lives: Suzy Landa

Film industry professional turned jewelry designer creates a signature look that is modern and clean.

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SUZY LANDA’S COLLECTION is clean, uncluttered and always modern. She eschews all things trendy or busy and prefers making her own rules instead of adhering to fashion dictums. She is the epitome of the woman she is designing for: on the go, hard-working, knows her personal style and is comfortable in her choices. Landa’s sense of color comes through in unusual and rare gems, as well as the painterly tonal palettes she expands upon each season. Her change of career was a risk that led her to her true passion. This and her straightforward manner and design sense have paid off. Now in its eighth year of business, the collection sells to some of the top retailers around the country.

EARLY CREATIVITY “I grew up with a very creative mom and a ‘craft closet’ packed with every conceivable colorful paint, pen, wire, ribbon, button, fabric, and glitter. I made holiday cards, decorated school notebooks, fabricated mobiles, sculptures and wall art, and strung together anything and everything to make necklaces.”

JEWELRY BEGINNINGS “I was working in the film industry and taking metalsmithing classes for fun at night when I met Cindy Edelstein at the MJSA show where I was buying supplies. She complimented a piece I was wearing and suggested turning my hobby into a business, encouraging me to apply to the JA Show. I had never heard of it, nor did I know a soul in the business, but I produced and photographed a bunch of pieces and exhibited without ever thinking that it would mean completely changing my career. I was chosen to be one of five JCK Rising Stars that year (2004), and as a totally green, ignorant rookie, got a bunch of orders!”

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY “When I started in 2004, I knew that I wanted to create a collection for women like me: working professionals who buy their own jewelry, dress casually 90 percent of the time, and favor timeless statement pieces over disposable, trendy ones. My aesthetic was and still is classic and contemporary, never fussy.”

JEWELRY CHARACTERISTICS “Originality in design, unbeatable quality gemstones, great craftsmanship, comfortable weight (especially in earrings), and that feeling a woman gets when putting on that special piece that says, ‘Now THIS just made the outfit.’”

INSPIRATIONS “Mid-century modern design, architecture, art, and graphic design. Much of my collection revolves around vibrant colors and tonal families that range from pale to intense. This part is inspired by vivid memories of nature from the sea to the mountains: the bold ocean blues and greens as well as the paint, carpeting, furniture, and art that filled my childhood home.”

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EVOLVING COLLECTION “I continue to add more color groupings, and when I find remarkable gems, I design around them to create a harmony of function and the inherent beauty of these rare stones. I have also expanded my bridal to include more alternative engagement rings with natural colored diamonds in a variety of cuts, sapphires and other gems, all within my goal to keep pieces as clean and wearable as possible.”

DESIGNER’S PICK

“Choosing to work with these center stones is a huge departure for me from the pristine gemstones I generally use.”

“The imperfections seem so much more beautiful — and even intentional — when married with the black (and white) diamonds.”

“This was my very first time using emeralds — and I love green — because this version of them was affordable.”

“These earrings are one-of-a-kind, as are most of my colored stone pieces.”

Q&A with Suzy Landa

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What is your favorite vacation spot?
“Italy — the art, architecture, color, food (of course) and the live-in-the-moment attitude of the locals, as well as the marriage of ancient and contemporary elements.”

What is your favorite piece of jewelry to wear?
“My knife-edge diamond hoops. I’ve worn them nearly every day for eight years. They’re the style that launched my collection, and still my best seller.”

Who is your favorite fashion designer?
“Ines de la Fressange, Chanel’s first ‘it’ girl and the company muse for more than a decade, after which she started her own collection and has now been in business many years.”

If you could have any other career, what would it be?
“Architect / interior designer.”

What is your favorite dish to make?
“I like to bake — cookies, pies, tarts — but I tend to indulge in whatever I’ve just made until the point of belly ache.”

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Beth Bernstein is a published author of three books and jewelry and fashion expert with 18+ years experience. A broad knowledge of the history of jewelry and fashion coupled with a background in "the story", writing, trends, design concepts has earned Beth a proven track record.

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