Rachel Loren and two childhood friends, Satya Stewart and Annah Zafrani Stewart, started making the jewelry they couldn’t find in stores, and in 2010 Loren Stewart was born. During late nights, over wine and long dinners, the girls would design their hearts out. A few years later, they had a very successful, sustainable jewelry business produced in Los Angeles. Rachel is now lead designer and is still designing on instinct and creating simple and classic pieces for her customers to collect and “live in”. The brand, supported by many major retailers across the world, features only the finest materials and has become synonymous with a timeless elegance women crave.
Can you tell us about how you became interested in jewelry design?
Actually, I started making jewelry in high school. I took silversmith classes and worked with beads and leather. That initial love of crafts and design stayed with me throughout my studies and into my career as a TV executive. In 2008, I remember wanting a cocktail ring, but most jewelry seemed overpriced and wasn’t what I was looking for. So I dug up dusty necklaces from my Bat-Mitzvah, melted them down, and made my first ring. I haven’t stopped making jewelry since.
There are three of you behind the brand – what’s the relationship between you all?
Satya Stewart and Annah Zafrani Stewart are sisters and we are all old friends. Our line Loren Stewart, grew out of our friendship – and last names.
How do you define your roles?
When we launched Loren Stewart back in 2010, the three of us worked like crazy to get the line off the ground. We designed over long dinners and bottles of wine, all while simultaneously running the business side of things. Now I’m managing partner and lead designer, yet Loren Stewart has been a very collaborative process for us. We never thought the line would grow to the level it has and we are all extremely grateful that our mutual passion project continues to evolve and has become a viable business.
When I stepped into your showroom, I was immediately drawn to your line – do you often get this response?
Wow, thank you! Such a wonderful compliment. I think our brand resonates with people for a number of reasons. Firstly, we only work with fine metals – 14kt gold, sterling silver – and real stones such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc. People are drawn to that authenticity. In addition to the quality of materials, our pieces evoke a nostalgia that remind people of everything from their rebellious youth to the elegance of their grandmothers. It feels personal.
What do you think it is that sets your brand apart?
Loren Stewart pieces are meant to be layered, mixed and matched, so it’s important for us that people can collect all the designs that speak to them. An essential aspect of our brand identity is about making fine jewelry accessible, both from a cost stand point, and also that styles have a “live-in-it” wearability. We want people to put on our jewelry for work, hit the town at night, and sleep in it when they go to bed.
Loren Stewart supports socially responsible business practices- what specifically does this mean for the brand?
We design, fabricate and manufacture all our collections in Los Angeles, CA and work in tight collaboration with everyone that handles our products: wax molds, casting, stone setting, polishing, soldering, chain making and assembling. It’s important to us that our product is made by artisans that we have a relationship with and whom are part of our team. Also, our manufacturers often recycle gold and silver to help keep our footprint minimal.
Where do you source stones?
Stones come from all over the world, but Loren Stewart always tries to work with suppliers mindful of where – and under what circumstances – their stones originate. We work with lapidaries based here in LA, and some of our vendors own lapidaries abroad, so we can be assured that the stones we buy are produced with adherence to US labor standards. Also, all diamonds coming into the US need to pass the Kimberly Process Certification, which outlines the regulations countries must follow to ensure diamonds are mined and shipped ethically. We source stones from as close to home as Arizona to as far away as Australia.
Each item is handmade – is this tough for production as the brand has grown and demand increased?
Not at all! We work intimately with a few trusted manufacturers who have been with us since the beginning. They are true artisans and craftsmen, but they also are set up for scaling production. As the brand has grown, so has our attention to detail and quality.
Which styles do your customers shop online vs in store?
We have a greater variety of products available online than what is in-stores. Overlaps exist, but boutiques all buy differently – they know their customers and curate their products accordingly.
What do you love about producing in LA?
I love exploring in the labyrinthine jewelry district in Downtown Los Angeles. It’s packed with artisans, craftsmen and dealers from all over the world – Persians, Armenians, Indians, Guatemalans, Mexicans, etc. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles so it’s really inspiring to work in these beautiful ornate buildings among the most talented jewelers on earth.
What are the major jewelry trends for Fall 2015?
To be honest, I don’t really know and have not opened a fashion magazine for months. We are not trend focused, I just try to make what I like to wear and hope others will like it, too.
Describe Loren Stewart in three words?
Classic, nostalgic, personal.