By Elisa Bronstein
Who wouldn’t love a unique piece of jewelry made from uncommon, durable material, featuring a distinctive design, affordable price, handmade quality, and an interesting background, and created by a smiling designer? My thoughts exactly! Orna Lalo, the mind behind Lalo Treasures on Newbury Street in Boston, is a fashion designer and graduate of Shenkar College for Fashion and Textiles in Israel. Her jewelry, home décor, tabletop line, and Judaic pieces stem from an inimitably imaginative eye with a worldly twist. Orna was widely recognized for her custom runway looks until about 1990, when she branched out to accessories.
What is Lalo’s philosophy? She states, “I always think about the person who will be using my products. I want my colorful
creations to smile at you and make you feel good.” It’s true; her pieces are aesthetically pleasing and unique enough to elicit a positive response from passersby. The pieces are so intriguing you can’t help but wonder how she makes them.
Lalo uses resin as the base in her exuberant creations. “The materials I use are manmade, but I create the illusion of a natural organic material with the use of color, translucency, opacity, design, and a variety of media, allowing the end user to use plenty of imagination,” says Lalo. Most designs incorporate whimsical lines, collage-like arrangements, and a shape derived from nature. Necklaces are large statement pieces with plenty of movement. Earrings range in style from modest to bold and employ daring shapes. Most of her designs can be bought in sets – necklace, earrings, bracelet, and ring – but each piece stands on its own as well.
Several different lines are available, and each has a clincher of a story behind it. Lalo says, “Behind each piece there lies a fantasy or a story, or even both.” With such appealing designs and a story line behind each piece, her collections are simply irresistible. Her Judaica is less traditional than you might think, her designs reflect fauna and flora motifs, and the organic shapes are enticing, optimistic, and free.
Each piece she designs, from elaborate neckwear to napkin rings, stays true to her vision. Details that would achieve little in isolation work together to entice the eye and inspire the mind. The simplicity of shape, the transparency in material, and the freedom of design incorporating a “daring range of colors…bring to mind the innocence and optimism of childhood.”
What could be more interesting than an Israeli fashion designer gone international jewelry designer, you ask? Orna also has somehow managed to steer clear of troublesome factories. Instead, she has used her creativity to design a unique method of producing distinctive items. Orna has established a factory and design studio in the lush forest in Bulgaria. She takes her designs to villages surrounding the factory and incorporates local women into the assembly process. The women, both young and old, are eager to learn the process and are happy to do so because they can work under fair conditions while still caring for their families. Orna says the “pieces seem to carry with them all the intentions of everyone who touches them.”
Lalo Treasures can be found at various locations in five different countries, including Orna’s home turf, Israel. Proprietary store sites include Europe, America, Australia, and Japan, with hopes to expand. Though varying in size, location, and inventory, the stores share a special quality: Each is a magical place where fun and happiness abound. Customers say the shop is “an island of optimism.” Each store, aptly named “treasure,” offers the excitement of rooting through a treasure chest that offers unique, lively finds with every glance.
Lalo Treasures comprises four main jewelry collections, aptly named Lost and Found, Ocean Tales, Gentle Mechanics of the Broken Heart, and most recently, the Birds and the Beads. In accordance with Orna’s philosophy that each design should bring a story to life, her collections are capricious and irresistible. The story behind Lost and Found? “This morning I couldn’t find my keys. I looked everywhere, retracing my path again and again. ‘Meow!’ a hungry kitten called, so I went outside. The kit was nowhere in sight, but something blue twinkled in the gravel. I put it in my pocket- and found my keys! ‘Meow!’ came from the shade, reminding me of all the things I had lost and found: all that is still hiding between the borders of life and dreams.”