New York City–based jewelry designer Marla Aaron of Marla Aaron Jewelry, the former head of publicity for Mondera.com, pairs hardware-inspired locks with traditional jewelry looks for chic, contemporary pieces.
Marla Aaron of Marla Aaron Jewelry
Headquarters: New York City
Year firm launched: 2011
Signature style: “The core of the collection is a tool: the carabiner. The sturdiness of the carabiner always struck me as decorative, so I began casting them, and then changing them in different shapes and sizes. The carabiner locks are very Garanimal-like in the sense that the entire collection is designed to be mixed and matched together with other jewelry. I use carabiners in both bracelets and necklaces, and currently have 13 different styles available in multiple metals. In earrings, the bases have screw components that are interchangeable to different materials, movements, and heights.”
Training, education, and design process: “I’ve had jobs in global communications for past 20 years, including being the former head of public relations for Mondera.com, and serving as the director of marketing for Departures magazine. I also worked for Elle and Cosmopolitan magazines in Spain for five years. But through all of my posts, my constant was my love of jewelry, thanks in part to influence from both of my grandmothers—who piled it on and had fabulous collections while I was growing up, and my own affinity for Berlin ironworks jewelry.
“But when my son was born 12 years ago I wanted a locket—a modern locket—something bold and simple that would make a statement and I found nothing in the market. So I worked with an extraordinary artisan to make one that opened from the top, with a domed section to contain a photo and a keepsakes. After that, I continued designing, and combining my love of industrial shapes and landscapes—I actually lived for 10 years in an apartment underneath the Williamsburg Bridge—with precious metals into a series of locks in different sizes, shapes, and metals that can be mixed and matched with chains, stones and pearls. In fact, it was six years ago that I plucked a carabiner from a drawer of collected hardware and took it to a caster to have it made into a precious metal lock. I thought that the look could go in a lot of different directions, and could be personalized and mix well with existing jewelry collections. After that, I started taking classes at the Jewelry Arts Institute and the GIA, both in New York City, learning about 3-D printing, and honing skills through trial and error.”
Materials of choice: “I work in brass, sterling silver, and 14k and 18k gold to make the hardware, and pearls and various colored stone beads for necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.”
Starting retail price: “The price of a baby-size carabiner lock in silver is $100.”
Retailer buy-in: “I’d say a minimum buy-in would be $1,500 to get a nice representation of the line.”
Accounts: “Just one—Alexa Stark in Portland, Ore.—so far.”
Jewelry trade show exhibits: “None yet.”