NATIONAL JEWELER 53 district. Ten years ago, some customers wouldn’t have wanted to have that downtown jewelry district experience. Today, it’s much more vibrant and exciting.” With growth, however, comes the afore- mentioned fear of displacement. “The number of new luxury condos in downtown Los Angeles over this past year is aston- ishing,” says Kilcollin. “National chains are popping up around the jewelry district: Whole Foods is here, Trader Joe’s is said to be building soon. It will be interesting to see how the jewelry district around Pershing Square will survive the higher rents and need for more condos.” The easy answer for designers looking for access to more manu- facturers, and at cheaper costs, would be to outsource production to Asia, but keeping production domestic is essential to many of L.A.’s established and rising jewelry stars. As Gordon watches downtown L.A. rents rise and new condos populate the area, she worries about how this will affect the artisans with whom she works. “The cost of labor here is so much higher than if I outsourced my production overseas, but paying my team living wages and supporting their artisan skillset is so much more important to me,” she says. Gordon continues: “I’ve seen rents go from $1 per square foot to over $6 per square foot in the last eight years. I hope that the city is smart about how it lets de- velopers grow downtown L.A., otherwise the old-school jewelers, diamond setters, and casters will get forced out of the neigh- borhood. What makes it so magical, and makes my production hum along, is that all these old-timers are all within a block of each other. There is such a synergy there that I hope is preserved as the district gentrifies.” With the demand for manufacturing from indepen- dent jewelry designers in L.A. at an all-time high and growing, many more designers, like Gordon, hope that the downtown jewelry dis- trict, and the number of craftspeople in the city, will be able to keep up the supply. They are dedicated to producing in Los Angeles. “(Outsourcing) and competing with each other on price is not what this art is about,” Azlee’s Zwart says. “It’s about craftsman- ship and quality and supporting other local artists. I hope that we can all recognize that and strive to keep our products made locally and in the U.S. “This isn’t fast fashion, and this isn’t about beating each other’s prices.” 7. 5. 6. 13. 14. 15. 12. 11. 8. 9. 10. 3. 4. 2. Thousands of charms in silver and gold. 1. Azlee’s 18-karat white gold and diamond earrings