Once in a while you find a brand that puts forth unique, wearable, timeless designs that are truly eye-catching. In the ever-revolving world of fashion and accessories, such brands are hard to find.
Susan Hanover Designs, owned by Susan Hanover, is a true gem in the jewelry industry. Susan’s jewelry is world renowned, worn by both celebrities and everyday women, for both casual and celebratory moments. What really drew me to her brand is the interesting juxtaposition of stones and finishes, the colors of the stones she uses, and the architectural elements present in her designs. This gives each of her designs modern yet timeless appeal.
I also love her story of growing up in South Africa, moving to Israel, serving in the Israeli army, and finding a path to becoming the jewelry designer she is today.
You can browse and shop her collection at https://susanhanoverdesigns.com or visit her Instagram page @susanhanoverdesigns. Susan is offering Jewish Press readers a 20% discount on purchases from her website with code “VIP” at checkout. She also has a brick-and-mortar store in Roslyn, NY.
Susan Hanover Designs offers luxurious, elevated pieces at price points that won’t break the bank. Her line encompasses a geode collection, a gold collection, a bridal collection, earrings, rings, bracelets, cuffs, and more. It was a pleasure to speak to Susan and learn about the inspiration behind the brand. I hope that you are as enthralled with the line as I am.
Michal Goldfein: What inspired you to start your brand, Susan Hanover Designs?
Susan Hanover: I was originally an attorney, and after my son was about one year old, I decided that I wanted to start working again. At that point I was told that I had to convert my law degree [for Israel] and go back to school for another year. I wasn’t passionate about it; for me it was just a paycheck. Ultimately, I really loved fashion, particularly jewelry. I ended up making jewelry at home and making it for friends and family. It was a small business, and it worked well since I had little kids at the time.
You were born in South Africa and lived in Israel as well. How has that informed your aesthetic?
South Africa influenced my designs because of the beautiful colors. The country has such a gorgeous, rich landscape with yellows, oranges, and tans. It has always stayed with me. Similarly, Israel also influenced and inspired me. In the North, you have greens, and down South it’s the desert tones. When I first started, those natural colors really influenced my brand. Since then, we have evolved and we now include an architectural influence as well.
How would you describe the aesthetic of your jewelry?
I’ve always been a pretty minimalistic dresser, so if I was wearing blacks or whites, I loved to incorporate interesting, dynamic accessories. I took that forward with me in my business. Our aesthetic is classic with an edge. I create simple, linear pieces – but there will always be a focal point. There will always be a pop of color or an architectural element in the design.
Your jewelry has been worn by Oprah, Hoda Kotb, Michelle Obama, Blake Lively, and Beyonce to name a few! What was the moment you realized that you had officially achieved what you set out to do? Or your “I’ve made it” moment?
I feel like you never have that moment because you know that it could be gone the next day. The field of design, fashion, and jewelry is such a competitive industry. One day things can be amazing and the next day you can be last week’s lunch. However, some highlights, or what I like to call magical moments, were when we were picked for Oprah’s Favorite Things twice for our earrings. Another amazing moment was when we got a phone call from the White House, saying that Michelle Obama wanted to wear our earrings to an event. She ended up wearing our earrings to a couple of events. When you get that kind of recognition for your designs, it’s a magical feeling.
There’s something about your jewelry that appeals to women of all ages and draws women from different positions and different times of their lives.
That is definitely one of our strengths; we do appeal to a very wide audience. From the young 20-something-year-old who is just starting out in her career, all the way up to the 70+ woman who is into fashion and wants to glam it up. I think it’s a pretty sophisticated aesthetic that appeals to every age.
What are some of the challenges that your business has faced over the years?
There are so many challenges, especially with the retail landscape constantly changing. When I started my business 12 years ago, there was no social media back then. You needed a lot of marketing dollars just to be seen. You needed to rely on print editorials, PR press, and celebrity sightings. The good thing about the social media revolution is that you have so much more control over how you want your brand to look. There are so many inexpensive tools at your disposal that can help you find your voice and develop your own narrative. The challenges with social media is that the algorithm is always changing. This means that you have to stay in front of the change or you can very easily cease to be relevant. So you really have to have your thumb on the pulse all the time.
Your Geode Collection is exquisite. Can you explain the inspiration behind this collection?
I’ve always been drawn to stones and I wanted them to be the focal point of my jewelry. I was with my daughter visiting the Natural History Museum in Boston, and we saw all these beautifully cut, crystalized stones. I was so drawn to them, the gradient of colors, and the workings of the stones on the inside. It inspired me to search for the stones and to create wearable jewelry with them. We are the only ones doing it at this price point and it’s been an incredibly successful collection.
What is one of your favorite collections?
The Geodes, of course, as well as our Semi-Precious collection. The colors are beautiful. The smaller gems look like candy, and they are super wearable, and the geodes of course are super unique and seem to elevate whatever I wear.
You carry beautiful customizable charm necklaces and bracelets, like your padlock charm on a chain. What prompted you to include these pieces in your collection?
We brought this collection in during Covid. We realized that people were home, in their loungewear and sweatshirts. A lot of our customers were on Zoom calls with more casual outfits, so we wanted to give them something simpler to wear every day. We also wanted to create something meaningful as a reminder of our emergence from 2020. With that in mind we launched the 2021 Essentials. It’s a glossy, high-polished gold and silver collection. It’s jewelry that will make you feel good, and maybe trigger some inspiration in you. The jewelry is at a very comfortable price point and easy to layer as well.
You also have an amazing pearl collection. I’m enthralled with the Baroque Freshwater Pearl drop earrings – they are both classic and edgy. What inspired this design?
I love freshwater baroque pearls because no two pearls are the same. They are simple but always pretty. We have taken classic pearls and edged it up a notch in our designs.
The cuffs that are part of your collection are so modern yet wearable. Which do you recommend for everyday wear and how would you style it?
The cuffs are gorgeous and are perfect to be paired with earrings or worn by themselves. They’re like little pieces of art and are very comfortable. We’ve got the Arianna Cuff and the Alyssa Cuff amongst others that are perfect with a simple black dress or a sweater/blazer.
Let’s not forget your gorgeous rings with stones like Mauve Quartz surrounded by CZ pavé trim. What do you advise women who are in between ring sizes?
I recommend going with a slightly bigger ring size, because when a ring is too tight (perhaps due to the heat), it’s uncomfortable. As long as the ring isn’t falling off I recommend going a half-size bigger when you’re in between sizes.
What are your go-to pieces?
Right now my go-to piece is our chunky gold link bracelet from our Essentials 2021 collection. The gold is very high-polished and it definitely elevates my simple style. I also like to pair this with a piece from the 14K gold Queen of Hearts Collection, which is easy to layer and adds color to my look. For earrings, I’d either wear something from my Semi-Precious Collection or from my 2021 Essentials – both give off a casual, ready-to-wear look and can easily go from a day look to a night look.
You have an amazing bridal collection.
Yes! We do great with brides because it’s an amazing price point, and the pieces are elevated. We offer customized bridal pieces and are happy to offer styling chats with our brides either in person or virtual.
Can you describe your new collection?
We are working on a very lightweight, 14K fine gold whimsical collection. It’s already up on our website and is called the 14K Gold Queen of Hearts Collection. My favorite piece is a seven-station heart necklace. It lays beautifully on the collar bone. I like to layer the turquoise and mother-of-pearl together for a beautiful feminine look. The green malachite looks beautiful paired with the black onyx, and of course a single strand of your favorite color is simply stunning too! We have matching bracelets too, and I honestly can’t get enough of them. We have been very fortunate to be able to offer this collection to our customers at an amazing price point as it is all fine jewelry.
What are your goals for the future of Susan Hanover Designs?
To continue doing what we’ve been doing, being in touch with our consumers and constantly upping our customer service. We are working hard on our e-commerce site because we want to reach more people around the world.