When it comes to investing in jewelry, the well-worn adage “to each his own” definitely applies. And when seeking out a specific style, a particular designer’s name is often attached. Add to that the artistry that must be part and parcel to someone who conjures up statement baubles and bling for a living, and you can start your hunt for the ideal creator to dress you in trinkets often worn as art pieces that suit you best. All of this is thanks to a large dose of ingenuity and a whole lot of prowess of certain Angelenos who have made a splash in their special fashion genre. That said, consider the following flock of outstanding jewelry designers who hail from Los Angeles and sell their awesome goods at corresponding City of Angels’ shops and boutiques described below.
Tarina Tarantino Los Angeles
7557 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Pop culture pizazz seems to be the cornerstone for the works of world famous Los Angeles jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino. Her Melrose Avenue digs are like walking into an alternative world where your eye doesn’t know which item to grab first. This global trendsetter’s works, which came about back in 1995 in collaboration with Alfonso Campos, are currently coveted by all kinds of hipsters and futurists, from those who like a bit of goth in their lives to those who think the more color in the necklaces, bracelets and earrings they wear, the better. When all is said, done and donned, this lauded creator wants her customers to shine instead of “blend into the fashion landscape,” as Tarantino puts it. With the knowledge that lively luminaries such as Kelly Osbourne and Katy Perry have worn her wonders, Tarina is definitely getting her message heard loud and clear through this ultimate show and tell and thanks to her amazing creations and the amazing creatures who sport them.
2120 N. Hillhurst Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
To say Liza Shtromberg’s baubles are gems is not an exaggeration. The Moscow-born, Los Angeles-based designer uses all kinds of precious stones in her artistic creations, from Peruvian opals to lapis lazuli and beyond. Liza learned her trade at an early age, working with her father, a stone cutter and cameo maker, in his jewelry shop when she was a kid. She learned to construct wax moldings for high-end bling from her dad and then carried on by coming up with her own brand of what she has described as “heirloom-quality wearable art.” This is an accurate depiction of the jaw-dropping designs seen in Shtromberg’s work which she has sold to such high-profile personalities as Nellie Furtado and Rachel Weisz, among others. Like Liza’s other customers, these luminaries obviously know how to spot spot-on fashion in the form of jewelry that will last a lifetime and even longer since owners of her work will definitely want to pass these precious possessions onto their kin.
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Artisan LA Jewelry
4649 Russell Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Dainty stone and metal creations courtesy of high-end jewelry designer Julio Benez are featured in this discerning boutique that only showcases the best and the brightest in the field. Benez originally hails from Brazil and is inspired by wrought-iron designs found in many places and unique spaces. This in-demand artist is fond of fine filigree, which is nice because the two main elements he often embraces go well together when it comes to the rings and necklaces and other types of jewelry this amazing talent brings to the table; or, in this case, to this lovely little shop hidden away in Los Feliz.
Alisa Michelle Boutique
4344 Tujunga Ave.
Studio City, CA 91604
When celebrities of both genders flock to your namesake boutique to buy your baubles, you know you have been noticed in a big way when you live and work in Tinseltown. To date, many famous personalities have purchased the precision-driven yet somewhat whimsical designs of top creator Alisa Michelle, up to and including Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson. All are taken with this veteran jewelry designer’s easily identifiable style, whether that be in her iconic eternity necklace that hangs a snake to charm whoever the wearer meets or in her wax seal-inspired line that shows off an array of bling that some may consider steampunk in action since the old and the new blend in harmony in these perfectly executed pieces. One of the best parts about visiting Alisa’s place is to sit down at the in-house Design Bar to collaborate and create your own special wearable art, the design of which is nurtured by those of Alisa’s tribe who happen to be on hand that day, including Michelle herself.
Chariots on Fire
1342 1/2 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291
Jeweler Katherine Whitaker is based on the east side in Echo Park and featured on the west side at Chariots on Fire, a Venice boutique that peddles finely curated home decor and art for the sophisticated hipster. Whitaker’s take on the latter is in the form of simple yet edgy jewelry including earrings that could hardly be called baubles. These minimalistic ear studs come in the form of industrially inspired elements (beams, arrows, picks) and are sold as a single earring instead of a pair, thus enticing the customer to mix and match what he or she wears on his or her ears. Whitaker is also a porcelain ceramicist whose second trade seems to sometimes inspire the wearable and coveted trinkets of her jewelry trade.
Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.