ESC: Trendsetters, Ariel Gordon

Melissa Hebeler / E! News

The jewelry you wear can say a lot about you. 

For instance, any good fashion girl knows that looking expensive has less to do with the price tag of your clothes and more to do with the quality of your jewelry. Perhaps that's why Ariel Gordon Maffei, the CEO and designer of Ariel Gordon Jewelry, focuses on timeless designs that are intended to be passed down as family heirlooms.

So what makes a piece of jewelry so special? To find out, we met up with the UCLA grad-turned-entrepreneur at her downtown LA studio space.

What was your first job?
My first job out of college was for a marketing firm founded by Caroline Graham, who was a titan in the magazine world. She was the West Coast editor of Vanity FairThe New Yorker and Talk Magazine under Tina Brown. I learned a lot from her about marketing, PR, event production, proper etiquette and so much more.

ESC: Trendsetters, Ariel Gordon

Melissa Hebeler / E! News

How did you get into the fine jewelry industry?
After graduating from UCLA, I took some jewelry classes at a local jewelry school. This led me to the Revere Academy in San Francisco, where I learned metalsmithing and stone setting. Once I moved back to LA, I sent my resume to every jewelry designer in the area and ended up working as the assistant to Maya Brenner for six years.

What is a typical day like for you?
Very different now that I have an 18-month-old son. I have to juggle things but I have become much more efficient with my time. I wake up around 7:30, get downtown around 10:30 and work in the studio until around 6. My husband usually has dinner ready (amen). We give Luca a bath, read stories, he's asleep by 8:30 and then I'm not too far behind. Wash and repeat.

Tell us about your office décor. 
My office is in the heart of LA's jewelry district. I wanted a space that was bright and inviting, feminine and modern. My interior designer friend Krista Ewart is lending her magic touch to help with the floorplan and customizing some new display cases and chairs.

ESC: Trendsetters, Ariel Gordon

Melissa Hebeler / E! News

What's the best part about your job?
It is so satisfying to design and make something that is tangible and becomes a part of a someone's daily life. Because all of my jewelry is real metal and stones, I love the idea that the pieces I make could be handed down as family heirlooms.

What's the most daring career risk you've ever taken?
I was pretty afraid when I quite my fancy PR job to go back to jewelry school.

Who are some of your career heroes?
My mom.

ESC: Trendsetters, Ariel Gordon

Melissa Hebeler / E! News

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
"Dumber people than you have done this and succeeded."

What designs are you best known for and why do you think you do it so well?
Mostly personalized pieces–dual birthstone rings, love knot rings, signet pieces.

In your opinion what investment jewelry pieces should every girl own?
No one will know if your clothes are from Zara if you're wearing good jewels and a fancy purse. The right accessories always elevate an outfit.

ESC: Trendsetters, Ariel Gordon

Melissa Hebeler / E! News

Today for lunch I had… something delicious from Grand Central Market since it's across the street from the studio.

The first website I log onto every day is… New York Times or Instagram.

My usual Starbucks order is… iced matcha green tea latte shaken with soy milk (very high maintenance, I know).

If I wasn't doing this job, I would… be a florist.

My favorite place to visit is… anywhere with my husband. More specifically, Tokyo, Paris, Tulum and Ojai.

List five things that are on your desk right now… La Croix sparkling water, post-its, IPhone, nail file and stone calipers.

The book I'm reading right now is… Unfortunately, I haven't finished a book since it was before my son was born (hard to admit this since I was an English major in college). 

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