The lavish world of fine jewellery can often seem slightly stuffy and inaccessible. After all, how attainable can glistening diamonds, precious pearls and polished gold actually be? Yet, in recent years, new guard consumers are looking for lively buys to put the fun back into the fine, and jewellery designers are catering to their wishful needs.

According to the Financial Times, “a wave of fine and demi-fine jewellers are responding to growing demand for more whimsical jewellery, bringing fiery imagination to high-level purchases.” For New York-based jewellery designer Marla Aaron, creating pieces that both excite and intrigue has always been her mission. Since founding her eponymous jewellery brand back in 2012, she’s sought to redefine the precious jewellery space with what she calls “hardworking jewellery”.

Her wide range of products features interchangeable locks that can be stacked and connected to various different chains. From rainbow beads cut from agate to locks studded with baguette-cut sapphires, rubies and diamonds there are countless investment pieces to achieve your desired look.

Her best-sellers, however, are on the more accessible end of the spectrum, and include a lightning Boltlock pendant, created in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum to celebrate their David Bowie exhibit; as well as pearls that come strung onto 11 technicolour cords in sage, red, pink and emerald.

We caught up with Marla to find out more…

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind launching your jewellery collection in 2012?
I would say it was more obsession than inspiration. I always wanted to make things. Even when I worked in marketing and advertising I was making jewellery, studying jewellery, obsessing about jewellery. I was very taken with the idea of convertible jewellery and I had begun making it—experimenting with carabiners and claspless chains. Once I realized that we could morph the shape of the lock itself it opened an entire world to me and gave me a never-ending fountain of ideas. The more I know the more I want to do.

Why is jewellery personally important to you?
Because it is so personal. Because it is precious, expresses our ideas and emotions but is also useless. Such a dichotomy! Humans from every culture and walk of life obsess about jewellery and have done so since our beginnings, yet we don’t need it.

How does your background in marketing inform the brand?
If anything it makes me throw all my preconceived ideas about marketing through the window. And what I know about marketing doesn’t even matter anymore because I am old. There are no rules. All the veneer has been stripped away with the advent of social media. It is all about legitimacy, authenticity and having a point of view. It’s more about the work than ever but it has to stand on its own. It’s complicated.

Your work is known for its combination of old and new. Could you elaborate on how you blend these elements into your designs?
I am equally influenced by antique jewellery from every era, industrial landscapes, and colour – anything could influence the work and it is unlikely to be other jewellery. The best example of this is the development of our earrings which exist because I was trying to make an earring that was lightweight and convertible. I was on a zipline one day with my children and seeing the way that we “clicked in” to different sections of the line gave me the idea for how our earring mechanism could work. Our convertible earrings are a literal translation of this into fine jewellery. Many of our pieces carry the same story - a transformation of some form of functionality into something playful and wearable.

Your pieces are handmade in New York City where you reside. How does the city inform your practice?
How could it not? I live in Harlem. I work on 47th Street which is truly the story of New York on one small city block and it plays out every single minute of every day. Cultures clash and embrace and do business together over and over again. There is never a day I am not grateful to live in this ridiculous, extraordinary city. Because I find beauty in function and mechanisms I am of course always looking up and down and finding something to take with me from a construction site, or even how a manhole cover lies. Nothing is safe.

Your work was exhibited at the Museum of American Finance in 2016 and the Brooklyn Museum in 2017. How did it feel having your jewels displayed in a traditional museum setting?
It was a kind of unimaginable validation. It was very early days. We were not sold in many places. The collection was small and when The Finance Museum asked us to be in a gold exhibit representing modern jewelry I was stunned. Two years later when we created our jewellery vending machine and it premiered as an installation at the Brooklyn Museum I was overjoyed and also in a state of disbelief. But I feel the same way when I encounter someone on the street wearing our jewellery. I can hardly believe it.

In your designs, versatility seems to be a key feature. Could you share an example of a piece from your collection that best showcases your approach?
The Trundle Lock ring is “it” for me in that regard. It’s a ring that is also a Lock. It is equally both things. Was there a real reason to turn a ring into a Lock? No. But isn’t it wonderful that a thing can do two things equally well? I am also incredibly proud of the fact that we make this ring in elaborate fully stoned versions and a simpler silver and gold version that is more accessible. Everyone should be able to have hardworking jewellery.

Marla Aaron is now available to buy in the UK at