Interview with Lizzie Mandler
Lizzie Mandler is an engagement ring expert and Los Angeles native with minimalist style and an entire collection devoted to black and white diamonds. Her Hollywood fans (including Madonna and Rihanna) continue to turn to Lizzie for her subtly punk yet entirely refined aesthetic. As part of the LMxPDV design collaboration, Lizzie created an exclusive pair of one-of-a-kind emerald and white diamond studs, as well as customized an emerald version of her flat top cuff exclusively for Plan de Ville.
LIZZIE, TELL ME ABOUT LAUNCHING YOUR LINE. WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE READY?
“I knew towards the end of high school that I wanted to be a jewelry designer, and since both of my parents were entrepreneurs I never once questioned the idea of having my own company. I founded various jewelry companies while I was in school, but I knew I wanted to wait until I graduated from USC to officially launch Lizzie Mandler. Thinking back, I think I filed the appropriate paperwork to incorporate my business within five days of graduation!”
DID YOU KNOW FROM AN EARLY AGE THAT YOU WANTED TO DESIGN JEWELRY?
“I had no idea that I had a distant family member who ran a jewelry company in downtown L.A. until one day I was stopped at a trade show by a gem dealer who recognized my last name, and asked if I was related to Sam Mandler, my great uncle, who I never met. It was a bizarre way to discover that I had family in the industry! I started making jewelry when I was twelve years old, but I thought it was just a hobby until I started making fine jewelry when I was seventeen. I remember coming home after my first metalsmithing class and telling my dad that I found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
DID YOU STUDY JEWELRY DESIGN?
“I took classes at a small, private jewelry school in Santa Monica twice per week for three hours after school when I was a high school student, and I continued the classes through most of my time at USC. When I was in college, I lived in Italy for a year and studied tratitional metalsmithing at a small artisan school in Florence. I frequently return to school either in Los Angeles or New York to refresh my memory and learn new techniques.”
WHO HAVE YOU LEARNED THE MOST FROM IN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
“I didn’t intern with a jewelry designer, but I worked at a high-end jewelry boutique while in college, which taught me immense amounts about the industry.”
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CUSTOM BUSINESS. WHO WAS YOUR FIRST CLIENT? YOUR FAVORITE?
“My first custom engagement ring client was my best friend's sister and her fiancé. They trusted me completely and I could not have wished for better clients. Favorite is a hard one though...I am always so honored to be asked to design an engagement ring, so they are all near and dear to my heart, but I have to say that the most sentimental was designing a ring for my brother. My brother is an artist and has a very strong vision (to say the least!) so it was a collaborative effort. We disagreed and fought along the way, like any siblings, and I can truly say that my blood, sweat, and tears went into that ring and thankfully, I think everyone is in love with the outcome.”
WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR BUSINESS?
“The most rewarding parts of my business are two-fold; first, being able to wake up every morning and spend the day doing what I love is incredible. Second, having the opportunity to create jewelry that becomes part of a person’s life, a part of their personal identity, is the biggest compliment to me as a designer.”
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR BUSINESS?
“Initially, the biggest challenge I faced was my age. There were many diamond dealers who wouldn’t work with me because they didn’t take me seriously because of my age. there were a few that gave me the time of day, and I am still very loyal to them because of their willingness to work with me in the beginning.”
LIZZIE, WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS A DESIGNER?
“I would say the medium itself is a huge motivator for me. Jewelry is so powerful – it’s such a powerful medium because it has ability to be completely time-specific, and yet timeless at the same time. The materials last forever, and it’s often a physical representation of an important time, event, or person in our lives. It is an honor to be able to design pieces that hold such high sentimental value.”