Lori Kaplan’s lifelong love for jewellery and design didn’t become her career until later in life. After starting out by selling other people’s designs in the summer of 2010 Lori’s desire to have more control over the designs led her to start her own brand. Her designs are heavily influenced by her fondness for gemstones, with colourful stones such as ruby, turquoise and peridot being the focus.
Lori isn’t interested in mass production so her vibrant jewellery, featuring unexpected shapes and textures, is completely one of a kind. Lori is the life force of this brand, taking care of every aspect from the initial design to the creation and selling of her pieces. We chat with her about her journey.
Have you always been passionate about jewellery design?
“I always loved jewellery, but jewellery design wasn’t an immediate thing. At five years old I wore numerous bracelets, necklaces and rings at all times. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered I could actually make these things that I loved. I started doing wire wrapping which I learned from obsessively watching YouTube videos, and then I went out of my comfort zone and took a classic jewellery class. It was love at first touch! Six years on, I have been honing my skills ever since. Every time I finish a piece I am still in awe. The learning curve is constant and that keeps it fresh for me. I never get bored doing this!”
What drove you to start your own line of jewellery?
“It was really a normal progression from doing bead work. I started at a private school in New York City for a short time on Saturdays and then moved onto another studio, Bianca Lopez Studio, where I go once a week to troubleshoot issues and bounce ideas, etc. There was no way I could wear everything myself so I started a website and it went on from there.”
"Every time I finish a piece I am still in awe. The learning curve is constant and that keeps it fresh for me."
How has your childhood influenced you as a designer?
“I grew up in a suburb near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My mother opened a craft shop in our local town of Media. I loved everything about it, including the buying trips. I used to teach classes at the shop in stained glass cutting, leading and soldering. Seeing those antique glass panes and making something else out of them was beyond exciting. In there lies my fascination with translucent gems and the way light plays off them. Red glass has now translated to emeralds and rubies and a whole plethora of semi-precious stones used in my work.”
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
“My inspiration comes from many sources. I look at what people are wearing when I’m on the subway, I’m like a magnet, always looking for the ancient jewellery section in museums. I’m also gathering quite a library on the subject so am always looking at books. And then it’s the gemstones themselves; I play with them or just start working, not really knowing what they will become. It soon becomes evident to me and I just follow that intuition. I make everything myself in my New York studio in SoHo.”
"Fads come and go, but the classics always live. My jewellery designs are timeless"
Values are really important us at Jewelstreet. What are your core brand values?
“I’m conscious of the environment, which is why I only use recycled and responsibly mined metals. I have a deep sense of history which translates to all areas of my life; a love of ‘the classics’, whether it be in film, interiors, or clothes. Fads come and go, but the classics always live. My jewellery designs are timeless, you can wear them every day and they will complement you, not take away from you.”
What is the most meaningful piece of jewellery you have ever received?
“I used to admire a ring my father gave to my mother. It’s a modern gold ring with a pearl nestled inside, it was quite modern for the time in the 60’s/70’s. My mother gave it to me recently. I cannot bring myself to wear it, so it sits with all my collectables under glass.”
"Seeing their happy face when the piece is finally finished is enough of a reward for me."
Are there any clients you are particularly proud of?
“I’m most proud of the commission work that I’ve done. There’s something so satisfying about working with a client and executing a design with their input. It stretches my boundaries. Seeing their happy face when the piece is finally finished is enough of a reward for me.”
"I only began this journey six years ago, I think I will have arrived after I’ve put in at least 30 and am still going strong!"
How do you want someone to feel when they wear a piece of your jewellery?
“I want them to be comfortable and proud. You know when you have something new and you make it obvious, like a new ring, and you use that finger more often all day hoping someone will say “wow, where did you get that ring?” - that’s how I want you to feel.”
What drives you to create jewellery?
“I don’t feel that I have arrived and I think that’s probably what drives me. There’s so much to learn, I just hope I can keep working and learning new things, and that will keep my brand and me alive. I only began this journey six years ago, I think I will have arrived after I’ve put in at least 30 and am still going strong!”
Lori Kaplan Jewelry is available to shop on Jewelstreet here.