Like many jewellery designers, Jesse Marlo Lazowski first caught the gem bug while travelling. The year was 2012, and the New Yorker – then just 22 years old – was in Rajasthan, India.
“I felt, and still feel, such a connection to Jaipur and my senses were flooded with inspiration,” recalls Lazowski. “I decided to work with artisans there to create some pieces for myself.”
What inspired her to do so was the Indian gem cutting technique of carving out a space within one gemstone so that another can be set within it. She didn’t know it at the time, but this motif would become the signature of her jewellery brand, Marlo Laz, when it launched a couple of years later, refining into the Juju and Eyecon designs.
Though such gemstone setting techniques were common in the gem hub of Jaipur, Lazowski’s stone selections for these early commissions did raise eyebrows. “When I asked the artisans to cut the pink tourmaline into the centre of turquoise and carve that turquoise in the shape of the eye, they told me I was nuts, but agreed,” she says. “The first Juju pendant was lapis [lazuli] with a diamond in the centre and I had even made a Juju ring, which was a chunk of turquoise with a diamond set in.”
Lazowski has continued to experiment with unusual and vibrant gemstone combinations as the Marlo Laz jewellery brand has grown. “My absolute favourites are turquoise with pink tourmaline, Brazilian jade with green tourmaline, and lapis [lazuli] with aquamarine,” she says. “Onyx with opals is also one of our iconic combinations, which I find to be fresh and alluring.”
Marlo Laz clients are also invited to try their hand at selecting gemstone combinations. The jewellery brand offers bespoke editions of its Eyecon jewels, which are shaped in the talismanic form of an all-seeing eye. However, should you choose to go down this route, don’t expect an instant jewellery fix, as carving gems to fit within each other perfectly is a tricky technique that takes time to perfect.
“Our stones are hand cut for the Eyecon collection in the shape of an eye, which needs to be quite precise,” explains Lazowski, who’s jewels are made in New York’s Manhattan. “Even after five years of production and working with our lapidary teams, we still have to make sure each individual piece of stone that is specially cut fits. It’s not uncommon that we recut until it fits in perfectly.
“For the Eyecon pieces, in addition to the large stone, carving out space for the centre of the eye is quite difficult to ensure that it is centred and doesn’t throw off the symmetry of the entire piece. I’ve been known to reject quite a few pieces if it seems like the centre is not properly aligned. I am forever blown away by the technique, craft and artistry of our team who works on these pieces.”