Ilana's Inspirations | Interview with Tel Aviv Jewelry Entrepreneur

Photo of Wani Azahar
10 December 2015

Young, bright and beautiful, 28-year-old Ilana Sarna is the inspiring Tel Aviv-based jewelry designer and founder behind fine jewelry brand Ilana Ariel. We picked her brains on her love for fine jewelry and uncover her journey as a visionary entrepreneur.

Ilana Sarna, Designer and Founder of fine jewelry brand Ilana Ariel. | Courtesy of Ilana Sarna

The Culture Trip: We understand your interest for jewelry started out very young. What sparked that interest?

Ilana Sarna: From a very young age I loved making things. Whether it was clothing for my Barbie dolls, clothing for myself, or paintings and drawings; I spent a great deal of time on my bedroom floor creating.

One summer in high school, a friend of mine and I decided it would be fun to learn how to wire wrap, and returned to school in the fall with a bunch of new earrings we had made for ourselves. People took a real liking to our work and it was then that I decided I would eventually start my own jewelry line.

What did you do thereafter to groom your passion into a talent and later a business?

I took some jewelry making courses in college and while I was in law school, it further enhanced my passion for starting my own jewelry company one day. As soon as I finished law school and took the bar, I created Ilana Ariel and here we are today.

Stirring the fine jewelery scene with her visionary, bespoke designs. | Courtesy of Ilana Sarna

Have you always imagined yourself to be a jewelry designer and later on owning your own business?

Even though I have always loved jewelry, in some ways I stumbled upon jewelry making. Once I decided to go that route, however: the dream of starting my own business and creating my very own designs became palpable very quickly.

Talk about business: tell us more about your company, Ilana Ariel.

Ilana Ariel is a fine jewelry company established since 2012 and based in New York City. Notable for the seamless union of polished and edgy aesthetics in the designs, the jewelry is rendered in 14k and 18k gold. Many of the pieces are also set with precious and semi precious stones, some of which are diamonds, rubies, emeralds, turquoise and tourmalines. The pieces can be purchased from Fivestory NY, Marlee’s By Tappers, Plan Deville NYC, Spring, and

What did you envision when you first started out Ilana Ariel?

I wanted to create a jewelry brand that was rooted in thoughtful design; to make everyday pieces that are sophisticated yet simultaneously approachable.

‘Diamond Stepping Stone Circle Necklace’, Stepping Stone Collection | Courtesy of Ilana Sarna

Would you say you’ve achieved that experience for your customers?

With each piece, I want my customers to feel like they stand out even while wearing something more understated. The confidence doesn’t come from being ostentatious, rather from the elegance and design integrity of the piece.

Every designer has his or her own signature style. What would you say is yours?

I have three collections that are aesthetically different from one another. Still, they all reflect my love of asymmetry, which I express either through color or proportion.

From where do you draw your inspirations?

I draw inspiration from the powerful women in my family who taught and continue to teach me the meaning of grace and self-expression. I’m also heavily inspired by landscapes and cityscapes I’ve encountered while traveling.

‘Double Triangle Ring’, Ten Eleven Collection | Courtesy of Ilana Sarna

Although you might have no lack of inspiration, what do you do to fuel your creativity when you have a designer’s block?

I look at old pictures of my grandmothers, mother and aunts, as well as reflect on my travels and the tokens I picked up along the way. Lately, I’ve also been hitting the streets of Tel Aviv in search of interesting floor tiles to inspire new shapes.

Which would say was your proudest creation, and why?

The ‘Ella’ ring with diamonds is by far my favorite. It’s a real showstopper, just like the woman it’s named for (my late maternal grandmother). The scalloped design adds a hint of femininity to an otherwise bulky ring, so it makes a statement while still being tasteful.

Are there any upcoming collections that we can look forward to?

I just launched ‘Primary’, which is exclusively available at Fivestory NY. The pieces feature a series of vibrant stones. When strung together, the first letter of each gem spells out a word. For example, the ‘Care’ pieces are set with Citrine, Aquamarine, Ruby and Emerald.

‘Mini Cap Crescent Chandelier Earrings’, Legacy Collection | Courtesy of Ilana Sarna

Other than fine jewelry, was there anything else you’ve wished to design, or have designed?

I really love interior design. I intentionally called my brand ‘Ilana Ariel Collections’, instead of jewelry because I hope one day to expand and design home décor. All in good time!

If you could describe the brand, Ilana Ariel, in 3 words — what are they?

Whimsical, intelligent, and approachable

Do these words resonate with you as a person?

I would like to think so, yes.

How would you describe ‘a day in Ilana’s life’?

Truly every day is different. I wear a lot of hats. Some days are focused on designing, while others involve more administrative work like updating line sheets, my website, and contacting retailers.

Check out the Ilana Ariel Facebook Page and Website to stay updated on their latest news.

Wani Azahar

Never starting the day without a warm cup of coffee, Wani is a 24-year-old Singaporean who loves writing about her travel and dining adventures.

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