A Conversation With Forbes
Ariel sat down with writer Felicity Carter to talk all things AGJ.
Read more from the Creatives in Conversation series.
As see in Forbes.com.
For Los Angeles-based jeweler Ariel Gordon, her motto, “more is more,” is perfectly evident via her gorgeous stackable pieces; after all, why wear one piece when you can wear a whole array of jewels? There are stackable paper-thin rings, eternity bands, gold bangles, zodiac-inspired necklaces and personalized pendants, to name a few — and here, it’s encouraged to throw them on eclectically.
Designed to be worn and loved every day, Ariel’s pieces are versatile and stylish — and it’s where the classic (cue diamond tennis bracelets and signet rings) sits alongside the contemporary (see the fun hand-painted enamel Fridge Magnet Initial Pendants). The result? Jewelry that appeals to a wide range of women, and this includes a long list of famous faces, too, from Gigi Hadid, Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron to Kate Bosworth and Beyonce. Now that’s a mix of cool, powerful women — a brand trait whoever the customer.
Ariel shares more about her brand, career highs, and how she’d like her company to evolve.
Women no longer want to wait for gifts or grand gestures from others to build a jewelry collection—they can do it themselves.
What's your first memory of style?
I will always remember watching my beautiful late mother, Myrna accessorize. She had this super big and bright energy that lit up a room. No matter her outfit, she always wore her red lipstick with big rhinestone earrings and frilly socks. It was her signature look. I learned my motto of "more is more" from her. She wore her jewelry and accessories with such confidence, and I hope to instill that same kind of energy and beauty in pieces I design today.
Tell us about how you made your way into the industry.
My first job out of college was for a marketing firm founded by Caroline Graham, who is a titan in the magazine world. She was the West Coast editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Talk Magazine under Tina Brown. She taught me so much about marketing, PR, event production, proper etiquette, and so much more.
After that, I worked in entertainment PR for a few years before pivoting towards jewelry. What began as a hobby quickly turned into a passion. First, I returned to school to learn jewelry fabrication, metalsmithing, and stone setting. Then, I started soldering pieces and carving waxes from my dining room table in my Santa Monica apartment. Simultaneously, I apprenticed with Maya Brenner for six years, where I learned the ins and outs of the business.
Humble beginnings, to say the least, but slow and steady, it gave me the experience I needed to match my passion for jewelry design with my need to create a profitable and sustainable business. A strong PR and marketing background helped build the brand from the ground up.
How would you sum up the aesthetic of your brand?
Chic but accessible. I want a woman to feel like the best version of herself when she’s wearing my pieces. I want her to feel both confident and comfortable, stylish but not too fancy, casual but still refined. I want her to know that her jewelry is indeed 'fine,' but it isn't so precious that it can't be worn daily. I want my jewelry to grow with a woman and become her trademark look.
Every piece I design is intended to reflect a special moment or person in your life—treasured objects that hold personal, sentimental meaning. Each piece has beautifully handcrafted elements (think hand engraving, enamel, birthstones, etc.) , but there's also a playful element to them. They're not intended to be taken too seriously but instead designed to be worn all day, every day. I don't take mine off for months on end, and I want them to become a part of the woman wearing them...and the stories they tell.
Which was the first piece you designed, and how did it come about?
My Love Knot Ring helped to put my brand on the map. It gained a lot of traction with the press (think Lucky Magazine and Daily Candy… RIP). I think it resonated with customers who wanted something that was both elegant and easy for everyday wear—the type of piece you never have to take off. I still love wearing mine as a pinkie ring.
You’ve had so many career highs; which is your favorite?
It was probably my moment with Gwyneth during the Goop pop-up in San Francisco a few years back. Goop has been a long and loyal partner, and we've had tremendous success together. It’s so gratifying that Gwyneth herself has become a friend of the brand. So it was incredible to finally be able to connect with her on a personal level and celebrate our partnership.
Who is your customer?
Our customer is every woman. We've created a collection that appeals to a broad range of ladies. For example, we have both accessible entry price points (for a younger customer who's just getting to know the brand and wants to dabble in fine jewelry) all the way through to the grandmother who wants pieces to celebrate the grandchildren she holds dear. I love seeing women of all ages and all stripes wearing AGJ, and I especially love seeing them in layers and stacks that they've collected and worn over time. I love the idea that the pieces I make could be handed down as family heirlooms.
Women no longer want to wait for gifts or grand gestures from others to build a jewelry collection—they can do it themselves. This customer often buys herself jewelry as a tangible symbol of a happy occasion in her life. Since so many Ariel Gordon Jewelry pieces can be personalized or customized with hand engraving or birthstones, I sell a lot to these ladies. It is so satisfying to design and make something that becomes a part of someone's chosen uniform.
How would you like your brand to evolve further?
The pandemic has been a wild ride for any small business like ours, but it's been incredible to see the brand continue to grow yearly. I'd love to extend our reach to new markets—and new customers—globally. I enjoy working with new partners on projects and collaborations that allow us to dabble in other product categories that make sense for the brand.