Diamond in the Rough
Get to know La Kaiser, the charitable jewelry brand opening up a shop in Santa Barbara
Written by Sofia Deeb
For Cindy Kaiser of La Kaiser Jewelry, diamonds are more than a girl’s best friend; they’re a way of life. Zimbabwe-raised, Swiss-native, and now living in California, Cindy was destined for a career with as much dazzle as her life in star-studded Los Angeles. She founded La Kaiser in hopes of bringing a touch of her European and African adventures into jewelry designs that truly inspire. Her colorful, contemporary pieces are more than just eye candy; a portion of each sale benefits charities across Zimbabwe and the United States, including the Anti Cruelty Society.
This year, Cindy’s travels continue as she makes her way up the coast to bring La Kaiser’s first retail store to sunny Santa Barbara. Here, you’ll be able to shop California-exclusive pieces as well as the brand’s classics. Doors to the new store open this June, so be sure to stop by, and keep reading to get to know more about the brand bringing a little more sparkle to the Central Coast.
What inspired your decision to study Creative Jewelry and Metal Design and go on to create La Kaiser jewelry brand? I've always been a hands-on creative person. Even as a little girl, my room was completely filled with arts and crafts. I was lucky enough to find a degree in South Africa specializing in Creative Jewelry and Metal Design, and immediately knew that was for me. Once I finished college and was living in America away from my family, I realized how important it was for me to design a life that allowed creativity and the flexibility to travel back and forth to Europe and Africa to spend time with family. La Kaiser started as a side hustle in 2012, and by 2014 it was a full time career and I've never looked back.
What do you love most about working with this art medium? I love gemstones and have always been obsessed with colorful gems and unique shapes. It's so important for me to incorporate color into my jewelry–I do this in a subtle way through the use of gemstones, particularly opals and rainbow moonstone.
You refer to Switzerland as your “design haven.” What aspects of the country most inspire you? I've always been inspired by the picturesque landscape of Switzerland...the perfectly green rolling hills, the pristine snow capped peaks, and the quaint mountain villages. In my eyes, the country has a gorgeous simplicity and at the same time a rich and timeless aesthetic. This ties in perfectly with my design vision for creating pieces that are both timeless and fashionable.
Take us through your creative process. This is always changing and I think will always continue to change. Currently I create a mood board of inspirational images and photographs along with a print out of our best selling pieces. I then work in keynote, followed by photoshop to create mock up designs which then become 3D renderings. After a lot of back and forth with measurements and stone sizes, etc., the piece is ready for wax printing and casting, and the production cycle begins.
What inspired you to bring La Kaiser here to Santa Barbara? Being a new mom to a one-year-old baby girl, my fiance and I have found Santa Barbara to be the perfect family town, and decided that we would be spending a lot more time in this gorgeous place. La Kaiser has always been very popular with online clients in California (Los Angeles and San Francisco in particular) so I could readily envision a La Kaiser retail store with a simple yet modern vibe doing well in Santa Barbara.
What can we look forward to at the new store? We have the entire La Kaiser collection (solid 14kt and vermeil) on display along with our sample sale collection. A few "Californian inspired" exclusive pieces are in the pipeline for the store too, and we will add permanent jewelry into the mix soon.
What collection or piece would you say best reflects the Santa Barbara client? I would say that our solid 14kt collection, which is dainty and simplistic in essence, yet stylish and modern at the same time.
What’s next for the brand after the opening? Depending on how our first store in Santa Barbara goes, we will expand the brand by opening more retail stores.