Los Angeles based, Suzanne Kalan has been making jewelry for the past few decades. She sold the diamond bracelet her father gave her as wedding present to build her company.
Over the years, she invented the fireworks setting where baguette-cut diamonds are randomly set in a way that it seems that they are moving staying remaining the shy, humble and talented woman she has always been. Back to Suzanne Kalan’s story…
How did you start your eponymous brand suzanne kalan?
It was 28 years ago by accident! I made some jewelry for my sister and myself. Some people saw it and liked it until a store owner asked me to make a collection for her. All of a sudden I was in business, and I’ve been busy ever since….
Can you tell us more about the fireworks setting?
I started working baguette diamonds only five years ago. The truth is, everyone loves baguette-diamonds, but no one knows what to do with them except with basic old-fashion hollow nest settings. We started doing one-of-a-kind pieces and the reaction was so great that I started making more. I officially launched a complete collection 3 years ago with the so-called fireworks setting where baguette cut diamonds are paved randomly. I like the unevenness of the fireworks setting!
How do you feel about being the inventor of something?
I was OK proud! Because you a lot of people do that, start businesses, create something, work hard to sustain. Then some people lose, others don’t. But last year, someone walked in and said to me: “My boss send me to thank you because we had over 3000 of baguettes, we were stuck with… and we sold out of everything.” The Indians are the ones who cut the best diamond baguettes and it appears that all of them are sold out!
I must admit that then, in front of that man, I felt like it was a diamond revolution !
Before the fireworks you did the starbust setting – what difers from the snowset?
The starburst setting is a technique I started using with different sizes of round diamonds. They are not evenly set. We have spaces and height differences as opposed to snowset pavés. Some stones are higher some are lower, it’s very subtle… you don’t see too much difference!
I don’t really look around, I don’t shop jewelry and I don’t look at what anybody else is making, I mean… if something comes in front of my face I’ll look at it, but I don’t look at designs or brands even in magazines. The main reason is that I don’t want to be influenced. I just want to have my own ideas… I used to get shoes, home accessories and clothing just so I could see the color trends and see what’s happening in the fashion sphere to get the vibe, but as far as jewelry goes, I don’t want to see it.
How do you feel about what you have accomplished?
I must admit that recently, I looked back to everything I have done in the past 28 years realizing that “wow”, this is important what has happened, especially recently! People used to point out how lucky I was, owning my own company. But what most of them don’t know is that I started with no investment at all, I didn’t have any money, I was just married. My father had given me a diamond bracelet as a wedding present, I sold that bracelet for $5000 to start my business.
You have started to be copied… what can you do?
The copies started in a big way last year right after I won the Couture prize in 2015… Obviously. We have sent a few letters, but there are so many out there. What is important is that our big customers such as Neiman Marcus or Harrods know who did the design first.
You must despise them…
The customers yes ! But you know Chanel remains Chanel and there are a lot of copies out there. The thing is that – they can’t stop it. But the customers that buy real Chanel products will never buy a copy. On our end, we are trying to bring as much awareness as possible in London and in the Middle East – our two important markets.
How about price positioning?
We have a lot of different price points starting as low as one thousand dollars going up obviously, depending on the carat weight of diamonds and how many lines do you want.
What is in the pipeline?
I guess keep on growing the brand and designing more. I want to keep doing things in jewelry that are different! Thankfully our business grew 50% in 2015 and by mid-June of 2016 we were already 30% over! Of course the economy makes a difference but back in 2001 when the Twin Towers got destroyed, a lot of people went out of business. Yet, we had one of our best years. So yes, economy makes a big difference but if the product is absolutely right, then nothing stops it.
I would love to do chandeliers, I think they are beautiful and big!