By Ashley Davis
Azlee’s “Modern Byzantine” coin necklaces, sold as charms or on chains, and the emerald bead necklace
In a tumultuous year, many fine jewelry designers took the time to look inward, delving into their creative processes and finding inspiration for new pieces.

Los Angeles-based Azlee, helmed by Baylee Zwart, seemed to hit its stride, interpreting the hottest current jewelry trends, like medallions, detachable and mix-and-match-able charms and chains to hang them on, through its own sophisticated viewpoint.

In recent years, Azlee has pared down its core collections, editing out daintier styles while retaining some of its boldest Deco-inspired graphic jewels.

The brand also found a new sweet spot, delving into ancient symbols and reproducing them on gold coin-like medallions.

In 2020 Zwart continued to mine these influences, looking to Ancient Greek, Roman, Sicilian and Spanish cultures and finding new ways to incorporate their symbolism into her collection, like as gold-dipped Venetian glass coins.

Zwart added animals—eagles, lions, owls and dolphins—into the mix, rendering them in gold on discs made of black jade or tiger’s eye.

When it launched about halfway through the last decade, Azlee only featured gold and diamond designs for its first several seasons, but has slowly and thoughtfully incorporated colored gemstones into the collection.

The brand began with emeralds and in 2020, branching out into many more, like the aforementioned jade and tiger’s eye as well as rubies and unexpectedly delightful agate.

In late 2019 and early 2020 Azlee rolled out medallions inspired by the Byzantine era, featuring cabochon gemstones like rhodolite, emerald, moonstone and black spinel.

They provide the collection a reprieve from symbols, with a cleaner aesthetic that seems to bridge the ancient and Art Deco influences.

Other palette cleansers include gemstone beaded necklaces in agate, tiger’s eye, ruby and emerald, and even a luxurious gold bar bead version.

Azlee’s bespoke bridal business has centered on unique fancy-cut diamonds like kites and shields, and these feature in many new collection pieces as well, like gold bar earrings with carré- (a square step cut) and bullet-shaped diamonds, or as pendants in the new “Staircase” mini-collection, which features various stones framed in levels of gold.

“The collection was inspired by ancient structures with ascending levels and indulgent gemstones of the past,” said Zwart of her latest pieces debuted throughout the year.

“These themes are translated into the layers of gold seen throughout the collection and topped with emeralds, rubies and diamonds. As always, the pieces are sculptural and inspired by the Art Deco era, ancient symbols and female muses.”

Visit the Azlee website to see the designer’s full array.


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