A simple personal style is like a plain canvas, providing a spare backdrop for those who know that jewelry makes an outfit. So says Suzy Landa, a self-proclaimed “jeans and T-shirt kind of girl” who adheres to that adage (courtesy of her grandmother) and turns geometric shapes and colored stones into bold jewelry designs.
Though she was artistic as a child, Landa’s jewelry business started only after her career as a movie producer had taken off. The Los Angeles native began her eponymous jewelry line as a “complete fluke,” the result of some metalsmithing classes (a gift from a friend) she took about seven years ago. She received such positive feedback while wearing her own necklaces that people began commissioning her to create original pieces. One recipient got so many compliments at a Hollywood party that she convinced Landa to start a business and even fronted the start-up cash.
After submitting pieces for consideration to the 2004 JCK Show ~ Las Vegas, Landa was named a Rising Star. Though she didn’t yet have a cohesive collection, let alone a store or a comprehensive business plan, she pulled together a small line to take to the show—her very first exhibit.
Although she started out fabricating her pieces, Landa now employs a casting house to save time. She says she relays her ideas to collaborators by way of primitive sketches and makeshift theatrics (think charades). Her jewelry coursework also comes in handy—Landa can articulate how she wants each piece constructed. “I sketch, design, pick stones, and market. I just don’t sit at the bench anymore,” she explains.
The focal points of Landa’s jewelry are the high-quality gemstones she selects for each piece. “I tend to design backwards,” she says. “I fall in love with a stone and design a piece around it. I respond to the color or the unusual nature of the cut.” Landa stays away from pale shades, opting instead for stones with rich, vibrant hues.
All of Landa’s jewelry is made in New York, a move about which she feels strongly. “I feel it’s responsible to keep jobs here,” she says. “But also, I am incredibly particular about craftsmanship and quality control. The only way I could have things made elsewhere is if I lived there. I am in the studio every day.”
Landa uses top-of-the-line materials to striking effect, but she says her jewelry isn’t meant only for special occasions. “I encourage people to wear [my] jewelry with a T-shirt and leather jacket and jeans and boots,” she says. “I don’t want things locked in a safe and trotted out once a year for a formal event.”