Well Worn: Jewelry Designer Marla Aaron

In 2013, after a successful career as a communications executive in the publishing world, New York based Marla Aaron decided to take the jump to jewelry design. Her namesake collection, which is equal parts utilitarian and glamorous, quickly amassed a loyal and enthusiastic following, and a new hit brand was born.

Aaron’s foray into a range of golds – from rose to green – is best seen in her carabineers: fully functional locks that start at a cute 1.5 cm Babylock and range to statement sized, inlayed masterpieces. Other hits from the collection include playful enamel cuffs in an array of colors wide enough for any Pantone devotee, and a ring ready for a custom message engraving called the Di Me, which has been spotted on brand-fan Blake Lively.

All the while, Aaron has gifted hundreds of heart-shaped carabineers to single moms, and has also found the time to create a traveling jewelry vending machine (yes, vending machine) that first took residence in the garden outside the groovy Brooklyn hotel, The William Vale.

We had the pleasure of stopping by Aaron’s studio – a Timorous Beasties clad boîte in NYC’s diamond district – to admire her latest jewels, which we paired with one of our own Bulgari Lucea watches. The combination of the Lucea’s mixed metals and pink cabochon crown with Aaron’s stack of rose gold and silver bangles was arresting, and the tips from Aaron about where to go and what to eat in NYC are definitely worth a bookmark for a day of neighborhood hopping.

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Describe what you make: We make jewelry that's not really like other jewelry. It's a series of locks and chains that together can be combined in interesting ways that we've thought of and even more interesting ways that our customers think of. We also make a series of convertible earrings and bracelets and rings that open and close to reveal secret messages. All of our jewelry offers our customers an opportunity to be personal and share it with the world. My approach and interest in jewelry is egalitarian in that we make jewelry priced from $80-$100,000 and everything in between and I am as proud of our silver Babylocks as I am of our latest Satirical Lock Series.

What is your favorite thing that you have made? It is very very hard for me to pick a favorite item but our Di Me bracelet that opens and closes is a piece I wear every day personally. I include a message to myself in it. For me, that one can write something long and expansive to yourself or someone you love  is luxurious and intimate. 

Turning point when you felt like your jewelry line was taking off: I hope to never feel this way....there are always more challenging roads ahead so as I always say, "we are not there yet and I have no idea where there is."

Piece from your collection you wear the most right now:  The Di Me Bracelet and Chubby Di Me Ring, and our chains that we make in the workshop – I am particularly proud of them. And, of course, our many locks. 

One project you’re looking forward to most in the coming months: So many things but if you force me to pick, I pick 3: 1) A brand new mechanism that I am working on that is going to be the focus of the evolution of our collection. 2) Working with a many centuries old company in a non jewelry business to bring to fruition a vision that I have for something very special. 3) The strategy for growth with our incredible vending machine--the current one and the ones we are building and where they are going. 

Go-to spot in the neighborhood surrounding your studio: It's a series of extremes. Mostly we bring our lunch to work but we indulge sometimes at DB Bistro or the wonderful food trucks on 46th street. 


Favorite thing in your studio: Easy. My team. But a very distant second is our Timorous Beasties wallpaper. 

What you love to do in NY when you’re not working: I love to go to Central Park with my dogs and my husband, go to the Bar Jacques in the Lowell for cocktails, see movies and have dinner at the Metrograph, take Hot HIIT classes, ride my bike everywhere with my Puerto Rican Chiweenie Nena and fantasize about New York City real estate secret bargains like everybody else...

Someone else’s work that you find inspiring right now: I am obsessive about my love for jewelry.  I deeply admire the work of Taffin and the work of Hemmele, Polly Wales, Vhernier,  original Suzanne Belperron, Verdura,  and the work of Noma Copley. On a deeply personal level I am literally on the hunt constantly for strange and magnificent antique pieces from a series of antique  dealers whom I haunt. With jewelry, I know it when I see it if I can't stop thinking about it....

Editorial photos: Doug Young

Product Photos: Courtesy of Marla Aaron

Pictured from top:

All Stone Chubby Babylock, garnet and gold, $5,300

Amethyst Disc Pair (to add to customizable earrings), amethyst and gold, $2,025

Lapis Inlay Lock and Charm Necklace, lapis and gold, $30,500