Diamonds might not be a girl’s best friend, but they sure come close. Lately, we’ve been taken by Baylee Ann Zwart’s jewelry brand AZLEE. Made of 18k gold and platinum, AZLEE’s pieces are made locally in Los Angeles by master craftsman, while the enamel is hand painted by a local artist and the jewelers are top craftsmen in their field. And with celebrities like Bella Hadid, Emma Watson, Rihanna, and Selena Gomez, sporting necklaces and rings by Zwart – AZLEE is clearly where the cool girls are at.
But surprisingly enough, jewelry design didn’t come naturally for Zwart. “It was an unexpected passion that caught me off-guard,” she shared in an interview with Vogue. “I had moved to Guatemala to work for a fair-trade accessories non-profit that worked with local artisans to create jewelry & home goods. There was a lot of metal working going on there, and Guatemala has a lot of natural stones that I was drawn to.”
It was there on the shores of Lake Atitlan that she began to study the art of jewelry metal working and was immediately enamored with the notion of being able to sculpt pieces from the ground up that can be worn every day. “After a series of events I started studying metal working on the weekends to make jewelry and fell head over heels in love with it,” she notes. “It was all I thought about from then on.”
Zwart’s design aesthetic is characterized by her fresh perspective and restrained approach. Her pieces feel modern and interesting, yet effortlessly wearable, with influences that include the French Art Deco era as well as her fascination with ancient civilizations. “It is fascinating to me when I walk into a museum and see gold coins, necklaces, earrings and bracelets from thousands of years ago and know that they meant so much to someone,” she says. “As a status symbol, as something they treasured personally, as something that was passed down from generation to generation. This is what inspired me to go into fine jewelry. The allure of creating something that lasts.”