Interview: Ilana Sarna of Ilana Ariel Collections
Ilana Sarna of Ilana Ariel Collections wears the Upside Down Triangle Back Earring
ILANA, TELL ME ABOUT LAUNCHING YOUR BRAND.
"I launched ILANA ARIEL in September 2012. Since then, I’ve been constantly challenged and equally fulfilled."
YOUR WORK IS INSPIRED BY THE WOMEN IN YOUR FAMILY, AND THEIR JEWELRY.
“When I was in high school, my grandmother let me borrow jewelry for a party I was going to. I remember sitting with her and looking through her jewelry box, listening to the stories that accompanied each piece. For me, it was never simply about just the jewelry, but also the memories made and the feelings felt while wearing them. I love how something as small a ring, for example, can bring to life people I’ve never met, and places I’ve never been to.”
YOUR COLLECTIONS ARE HEAVILY INSPIRED BY YOUR TRAVELS - WHICH DESTINATIONS HAVE INSPIRED YOU?
“The triangle theme of the Ten Eleven Collection resulted from an array of influences, but mostly from my travels in South and Central America. One day in Cusco, Peru, I spent almost three hours trying to find the perfect tapestry to bring home with me. It’s now framed in my apartment and whenever I look at it, I am mesmerized by the many patterns that come from the simple combinations of lines and angles.
Growing up, I often traveled with my family to Israel. The combination of colors in the Stepping Stone Collection was inspired by the earthy yet vibrant Mediterranean landscapes and cityscapes.”
YOU BEGAN DESIGNING JEWELRY WHILE STUDYING AS AN UNDERGRAD AT NYU.
“I actually started designing and making jewelry with a friend in high school, but it wasn’t until I began studying Art Therapy in college that I began to understand the power of the creative process, particularly how both the art process, and final product, can be used to communicate as well as facilitate growth and self-awareness. By engaging in an art form that I love, I am able to not only find serenity, but also produce treasures illustrative of beloved people and fond memories. The jewelry becomes a tangible representation of intangible thoughts and stories.
What I love about the art of jewelry design is that it is a means of storytelling, not only for me as the designer, but also for the person who acquires the piece. The significance and story behind each piece evolves as it’s transferred from one person to the next.”
YOU HAVE A J.D. FROM BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL; DO YOU STILL PLAN TO PRACTICE LAW?
“I’m grateful that I have the education but I don’t see myself practicing law in the foreseeable future; I’m very happy with what I’m doing at the moment. With that said, however, I do apply my legal education often when dealing with the jewelry business.”
WHO HAVE YOU LEARNED THE MOST FROM IN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
“I don’t have a particular mentor, but I’ve been blessed with amazing friends and family who all guide me in different ways. When you’re a one-woman show, it’s not just about the designs, but the overall presentation as well. My friends in the fashion industry have helped me tremendously, specifically with creating content, and building my brand. I’ve learned to never accept defeat. I’m open to possibilities and even excited by the idea of having to recalibrate sometimes.”
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE FASHION PRESS.
“Realizing how many talented jewelry designers are out there, I am still incredibly humbled when my pieces are chosen for press features [The Upside Down Triangle Back Earring in W] and worn by celebrities [like Emma Roberts and Carrie Underwood].”
WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR BUSINESS?
“The Multi Stone Long Bar Ring from the Stepping Stone Collection was just featured in print in Women’s Wear Daily. The picture was larger than life, and that’s exactly how I felt when I learned I was included.”
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES THAT YOU FACE IN YOUR BUSINESS? HOW HAVE THEY EVOLVED SINCE 2012?
“When I am faced with a challenge, I remind myself that I’m doing what I love to do, so I need to stay true to myself and confident in my designs. I’ve definitely grown more and more certain in what I’m doing, as anyone naturally would with time and exposure.”
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS A DESIGNER?
“Can I say everything? Because it’s true! My surroundings, education, creativity, even my legacy, family and friends all motivate me. Since I started on this journey of jewelry design, the saying ‘We are all links in a chain’ has been on repeat in my mind. We are all connected to each other, and as a creator, I feel especially inspired by artists who’ve created before me. I also feel encouraged when I see how my designs and the stories behind them touch other people’s lives.”