Suzanne Kalan was born in Lebanon and grew up in Kuwait, before moving to Montreal and later LA, where her father had a jewellery store. As a child, she was surrounded by jewellery made for her by her father’s jeweller friends, and as an adult she began working in her father’s store, designing a few pieces for herself and friends.
In 1988 a retailer noticed her jewellery and placed an order, and so her eponymous brand was born. She sold a diamond bracelet she’d been given on her wedding day in order to raise funds for the business.
Kalan decided early on she wanted to break away from the traditional jewellery her father sold, and her designs offer a contemporary take on classic styles. She is best known for her Fireworks collection, which sees baguette-cut diamonds seemingly set at random. It won her a design award at the Couture show in 2014, and is still one of her best-selling designs.
From her own super-sized take on the Fireworks band to precious family heirlooms, she shares her favourite pieces from her jewellery box.
Gold and pearl ‘baby bracelet’
This bracelet was a gift from my parents for my second birthday and I wore it throughout my childhood, until I was 10 or 12. I still remember playing with the little dangling hearts and chewing them when I was very young – my mother would get upset but I couldn’t resist! You can still see little teeth marks in the gold now. It was like a toy to me.
It was made by a friend of my father who was a goldsmith and made many pieces of jewellery for the family. In the Middle East where I grew up it’s traditional to give jewellery for every occasion: weddings, birthdays, engagements, births – we all have a lot of jewellery. The idea is to give a gift that will stay in the family forever.
This bracelet brings back such happy memories. My daughter is getting married later this year so if she has a daughter I will pass it on to her.
My husband gave me this necklace as a surprise after we got married. On our wedding day he gave me a beautiful diamond necklace but I wore this one more – I used to wear it all the time.
The coin came from Athens; my cousin went on holiday there and bought it. The chain is all handmade and the diamonds were set by my husband, who used to work as a diamond setter.
It’s such a beautiful, heavy, statement necklace. I wore it for many years. Nowadays I tend to wear the newest pieces that I’ve designed so I don’t wear this as much, but it’s very special to me. I could never part from it.
24-karat gold coin bracelet
In the Middle East, as well as jewellery it’s traditional to give coins as gifts. My mother had a big collection of coins, mostly English ones. My father decided to have a necklace and a bracelet made for her – the necklace features one large coin on a long, heavy chain, and this bracelet has a few of the smaller ones. They were both made in around 1960 by one of his jeweller friends in 24-karat gold, and every single detail is made by hand, not cast.
I remember my mother wearing this bracelet a lot and I always loved it. My sister was in love with the necklace. A few years before she passed away, my mother gave us each the piece that we admired.
She wasn’t particularly attached to her jewellery – she always wanted us to enjoy it. It wasn’t even for a specific occasion; she just opened her jewellery box and said “if you love it, have it”. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.
This ring was given to me by my father’s friend, the goldsmith who had made the pearl bracelet, when I was four or five. He was a very close family friend – they met in Kuwait, where the Armenian community was very small and close-knit, and they stayed close until my father passed away.
This is one of many pieces he made for our family. I grew up surrounded by jewellery! My father would tell him what he wanted and he would make it. It has a tiny ruby in the centre and four little seed pearls, and again it’s all handmade. I loved it and still do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit me anymore but I’m keeping it to give to my future grandchildren.
Diamond Fireworks wedding band
This isn’t my original wedding band. I originally had a very thin gold band, but when my son was two years old he lost it. Nor do I have my original engagement ring – I’ve changed the design three times – but this version of my wedding band I will keep.
It’s a version of our signature Fireworks design, which I designed six or seven years ago, but on a much larger scale. Usually with the Fireworks pieces the baguette diamonds are 2-3mm long, but on this ring they are 6-7mm. My husband selected the stones and we had them cut to fit.
I absolutely love this ring: it’s my signature, completely my look, and something I can wear all the time. I have a lot of clients who see my ring and want one for themselves. I’ve always found that whatever designs I wear, I sell. Jewellery comes to life when it is worn.