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Inside Jeweler Ariel Gordon's Charmed DTLA Design Studio

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Photos by Elizabeth Daniels

San Diego native Ariel Gordon may have started her post-UCLA career in Marketing & PR, but it wasn't long before design and casting were calling her name. The jewelry guru left the red carpet and followed her passion to Revere Academy in San Francisco where she got a full-time dose of Gemology, stone-setting and metalsmithing before moving back to Los Angeles to jump headfirst into the bauble biz. After five years of working with designer Maya Brenner—two of which she was simultaneously designing for her own line—the eager designer set off to focus solely on her namesake jewelry line.

Known for her classic rather than trend-driven pieces, Gordon's designs are for women who share her busy lifestyle and are looking for wardrobe staples that can become a part of their everyday uniform. "It's one less thing to think about in the morning," she explains. "Because it's fine jewelry you can sleep and shower in, and it's not going to tarnish on you or turn your finger green."

Her delicate pieces are made for layering and have a personalized appeal that women look for in such recurring accessories. Always discovering new ways to personalize pieces, from her famed Initial Pendants to her best-selling Love Knot Rings and Close to My Heart Necklace (which she created for her bridesmaids as a modern-day BFF necklace), Gordon designs with a personal connection to the customer in mind. Starting with, as she explains, "just a torch and a bench in my dining room," Gordon now has images of famous fans like Jessica Alba, Olivia Wilde and Jaime King hanging from the press wall in her Downtown LA studio.

How has living in Southern California influenced your designs?
"Growing up on the West Coast, I wore jeans and a T-shirts or shorts and sandals. I feel like my jewelry is an extension of that Southern California, easy-going lifestyle."

How do you come up with new ideas for designs?
"I'm inspired out of necessity. Like right now, I'm working on these new jewelry cases for traveling because I would travel to New York and have little Ziploc bags stuffed into my toiletry bags. I was like, 'This is embarrassing; I'm a jewelry designer and I should be traveling with my jewelry in some presentable manner.' So I've gone down this whole quest of learning all these different things about leather and sewing and patterns and now, I'm about to launch these new jewelry cases, out of necessity.

As far as jewelry, there's so much inspiration out there from seeing how all my stylish girlfriends dress or street style stuff. I just see all these girls who have put together their own esthetic and they've pieced their life together and wardrobe together and I might think, 'I do like the idea of a pinky ring' so I'll do my own interpretation."

How do get into the initial steps of designing?
"I'm always sketching things in little notebooks throughout the year and when the time comes for me to put together a new season, I put all those sketches in front of me and I have to force myself to sit and design. It's usually a Friday night from 8 to midnight when no one else is here-don't tell my mom-I'll sit at my bench and fiddle around with things. It's important for me to always make the first piece myself. [So] I lock myself away and hammer through it."

We can probably guess, but what drew you to this spot in Downtown LA?
"I make everything in LA and all of the people I work with are within a block from here because it's the Jewelry District. I live in Santa Monica so I work from home in the morning to wait out traffic. Then, I'll come down here and everything—from concept to design to casting to production to polishing—everything is all right here."

What are your DTLA hot spots?
"It's nice being in this building because Perch is just up on the roof, so sometimes it's nice to go up there on Friday or for Happy Hour. It has this sick view of all of Downtown. It's hard to avoid going to Bottega Louie on the regular. It's delicious. It's an addiction. It's a problem. I have to stay away. I also love that Pressed Juicery just opened a spot downtown in the Cooper Building so I'll go by there some mornings and pick up a juice."

Gordon is offering a discount to Racked readers! Head to ArielGordonJewelry.com and use promo code RACKEDLA for a 25% site-wide discount.
· Ariel Gordon Jewelry [Official Site]
· Behind the Walls of Kelly Wearstler's Ultramodern Design Studio [Racked]
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