From the time she was a teenager, Suzanne Kalan had a way with jewelry. She sold traditional pieces—“charms and chains”—from her father’s boutique but her real affinity was for working “behind the scenes,” she says. With her namesake collection, which she founded in 1988, she’s right at home dreaming up designs from her Los Angeles studio. Dedicated to making jewelry that lends sparkle to an everyday wardrobe, Kalan has found her niche by creating a series of hit designs focused on a specific diamond shape. Her imaginative pieces take diamonds that were once seen as supporting players and makes them the stars of the show.
Designing with baguette diamonds has become your signature. Why did you choose to work that specific diamond shape?
I’ve always loved baguette diamonds and thought that there must be a fresh, interesting way to work with them. One day, I was looking at whole parcel of them scattered on a table and thought it was a great design.
Baguettes are a little more modern, more edgy. They’re easy to wear. We’ve made tennis necklaces with 20 carats of baguettes. You can wear one in the daytime because it’s not flashy. I love the geometric shape and I love that they’re not shiny but still diamonds. They’re fashion forward but not out-there.
How would you style the pieces that appear in the campaign?
The bangle is from the Fireworks collection. It’s end-to-end diamonds but is still a piece that feels casual enough to wear easily. That bracelet is a lot like one that I wear most days. We focus on making all our pieces comfortable and wearable: 99% of them can be worn all the time.
We’ve sold the Fireworks choker to a lot of customers. You can stack it with other diamond chokers. I’ve seen clients wear several at once so that they’re one-inch thick altogether. It even works stacked with a simple gold choker. We get a lot of requests for that necklace from brides because they look so good with open necklines and bare shoulders.
There’s also a yellow gold bracelet with diamond pavé. It’s related to Fireworks because the gold is shaped like baguettes but it has pavé instead. I’m in love with it. It’s the most comfortable bracelet you’ll ever wear. You forget you have it on. The piece is very labor intensive because there are lot of diamonds but it’s still pretty and subtle and wearable for daytime.
Do you have favorite pieces in your own jewelry wardrobe?
I wear a long baguette diamond tennis necklace from the Fireworks collection. I like longer necklaces. I can move around easily wearing them. I’ll add shorter ones for the evening—more layers and a bangle. And I’m always wearing a beautiful watch.
When did you first become fascinated with diamonds?
I’m Armenian. In the Middle East, every child gets a piece of jewelry as soon as they’re born. I had a lot of jewelry very early. When I was five or six I had a butterfly ring that I absolutely loved with ruby eyes and a lot of little pavé diamonds but I didn’t know they were diamonds back then. Millions of years were required to form these stones. They all have their own personalities, even the ones that aren’t perfect.