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Designer Spotlight on Azlee
Designer Profiles

Designer Spotlight on Azlee

Baylee Ann Zwart discovered her love of jewelry serendipitously. After graduating from college in 2010, she moved to Guatemala to work for a nonprofit that helped local artisans bring their fair-trade accessories and jewelry to market.

“They needed someone who spoke enough Spanish, that was willing to live abroad to do photography and product development,” the Santa Monica, Calif.-based designer tells BE. “Weirdly, it was everything I had fallen in love with in college but didn't know how to transition into a career.”

Although jewelry wasn’t on Zwart’s radar at the time, she met a German metalsmith who lived on the outskirts of town, and he encouraged her to make a ring. “Long story short, I made that ring and fell madly in love with metalworking,” she says. “And I started studying metalworking with him on the weekends.”

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 Broken English Jewelry - Spotlight on Azlee

Once she returned to Southern California half a year later, Zwart got a job at the shoe brand Toms, working in design, development, and sustainability. At night, she began her bench practice with a jeweler in downtown L.A., but it took a while for the two to find their rhythm. “It took so much handholding that I got deeply educated on the creation of the jewelry and every single step that goes into it,” she says. “I would spec everything out — every millimeter, every stone setting type, all the nitty-gritty details because he didn't innately understand me as a designer.

“And I'm grateful for that now because I know a lot about the technical end of it as well,” she adds.

Before founding AZLEE in 2015, Zwart’s designs took their inspiration from the Guatemalan landscape, including its volcanoes. Over time, she incorporated more elements of the natural world into her jewelry, infusing it with touches of Deco, especially in her choice of unusual-shaped diamonds.

“We found a beautiful niche in doing custom engagement rings,” Zwart says.

AZLEE donates a portion of each sale to ocean-related causes, including The Marine Mammal Center, Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay, Oceana, and Sea Legacy. The brand has also sponsored beach clean ups in partnership with Surfrider Foundation Los Angeles, as well as One Water Day with Heal the Bay.

Broken English Jewelry - Spotlight on Azlee


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