Lisa Salzer of Lulu Frost Dishes on the Perfect Wedding Jewelry

We sat down with the cutting-edge jewelry designer to get the scoop on her recent engagement, the trick to pulling off statement jewelry and the accessory every bride needs.
by shelley brown
jewelry designer Lisa Salzer of Lulu Frost

If you're up on vintage-inspired jewelry (or you love perusing the baubles at J.Crew), chances are you've heard of Lulu Frost. A blend of modern design and antique flair, the ready-to-wear jewelry line is perfect for fashionistas and brides alike: just modern enough to feel fresh, but with a meaningful heirloom quality. And as luck would have it, Lisa Salzer, the designer behind the Lulu magic, is herself recently engaged to professional dancer and George Frost designer Marlon Taylor-Wiles.

We sat down with the New York based trendsetter to get the scoop on her engagement ring, the trick to pulling off statement pieces and the one accessory every bride needs.

What's inspiring you right now?

"Right now, I am actually really inspired by Santa Fe and the Southwest. I was just there for my Bachelorette party. I have always been drawn to the Southwest because I am so into Georgia O'Keeffe and the amazing Navajo jewelry I've collected since I was a little girl. And, I'm always inspired by Art Deco architecture—it's always on my mind. I think it is so clean and classic and super interesting. It's a running theme throughout all of my work, and I just constantly find new inspiration in it."

What's the best way to pick out bridal jewelry? Do you have your own method?

"The method really comes down to two things: your face shape and your dress choice. If you're selecting a dress that has a ton of bling on it already, then you might choose to either amp that up and add more jewelry, or tone it down and keep the jewelry really simple. It really depends on the theme of your wedding day. If you're going very traditional, then I think you want to stick to more classic jewelry. If you're doing something really bohemian and are into the outdoors and a more loose fitting dress, then I would select more drapey, luxurious, elaborate jewelry that is less traditional.

In terms of face shape, the classic lesson I always try to tell my clients, whether they are brides or just dressing for everyday, is that longer or oval face shapes can carry a bigger earring and a longer neck can carry a longer earring. I think proportion is very important for selecting earrings in particular. In necklaces, if you have a longer torso you can get away with a bigger necklace. It's really about playing up your wedding theme and your proportions."

What's the one accessory every bride needs?

"I definitely think it's a pair of earrings. Your wedding day is all about drawing attention to your beautiful face. Almost without exception, brides look so incredible, their skin glows. I think a great pair of earrings, whether it is a diamond stud or a deco crystal drop earring, draws light to the face and creates this little personal spotlight right on your face on that beautiful day. I think earrings are essential."

Lulu Frost Art Deco drop earrings

Earrings, $375,

Is there a trick to pulling off statement jewelry on your wedding day?

"I love to do statement jewelry in unexpected ways. I would avoid the statement necklace, but I would do an amazing headpiece, like have incredible vintage brooches woven into your hair or some amazing headband that complements your hair in an unexpected way, or a stack of three amazing antique Art Deco bracelets that are unexpected. A statement comes across best when it's really individualized, as opposed to like a generic crystal statement necklace."

We're dying to know about your engagement ring. What can you tell us about it?

"I am absolutely in love with my engagement ring, I love it more and more everyday. My fiancé Marlon is amazing, he actually co-designs George Frost, which is a unisex jewelry line, so he's a very creative person. He's a classically trained ballet dancer and has his own dance company, so he's very artistic and cool. I knew he would create an amazing ring. It's a totally one-of-a-kind ring based on a '20s idea, but it is not a replica—it's a unique design that Marlon created himself. It's a modern and traditional hybrid coming together, and I think that he perfectly interpreted the '20s through a contemporary lens."

Lisa Salzer custom antique diamond and emerald engagement ring

Lisa Salzer's custom diamond, emerald and onyx engagement ring

Were you involved in the design process at all?

"Marlon and I strategized together at first. We went onto Pinterest, which I think is a great tool for brides because you can type in what kind of bride you want to be like, 'bohemian' or 'classic' or and a lot of great inspiration comes up. We created a mood board and we would draw ideas from vintage Cartier, emerald elements and diamond rings. I wanted it to be a little less traditional because that's the kind of person that I am. I also loved that these Cartier rings from the '20s were so Art Deco, because I love an aesthetic that is geometric and colorful but in an understated way.

Then after we looked at vintage Cartier rings together I stepped away. It was so awesome, because as a jewelry designer I could obsess over everything, but it was really nice to be able to really trust him and let him do the whole thing. He worked with my team and created the most stunning ring. It's an antique old European-cut diamond, and then the entire thing was handcrafted in New York City by amazing stone cutters who cut emeralds and onyx accent stones into the most beautiful shapes and set it all in 18K white gold. It took 5 months to find the stone cutters, so it took some time to find the right guy to make the ring, but we finally did, and I'm in love with it."

What about the rest of your wedding jewelry? We have a feeling you might be designing your own...

"I might create something in fine jewelry for myself because my wedding dress is so clean, it requires a more clean jewelry look. I might make a meaningful piece for myself from our Code collection. The collection is amazing, it's these beautiful gold rings and earrings that I make, and I draw on this Victorian idea where they would spell out jewelry in stones. The first letter of each of the stones is a word, so you can create secret messages written in stones. I want to make more of an elaborate phrase out of different stones—I'm not sure what it will be, but I will create some type of gorgeous piece of jewelry that says something meaningful to me and Marlon. It's going to be really cool and personal, and then I am sure I will wear some amazing vintage type of earrings and bracelets to create a really unique look."

Lulu Frost Code ring in 18k carat gold

"Dearest" ring, $1,870,

Speaking of traditions, do you have favorite "Something Old" or "Something Blue" ideas?

"I love those little adages, I think they're so charming. I'll definitely borrow a blue patch of fabric from my Grandmother. I have some of her old scarves and I might put a little blue mohair under my dress to remind me of her. I'm definitely going to borrow some jewelry from my mom. I might wear my Grandmother's diamond studs in my second hole paired with amazing Lulu Frost vintage drop earrings in my first hole. I think that's another way to do statement—you can wear multiple earrings, even though that seems a little bit punk, you can use diamonds or pearls to make it look really elegant and mash up the very classic with a more modern way of wearing them in multiple earholes. I think it's also cool to bring in something from your paternal family. I might wear a little locket or statement ring from my dad's family to pay homage to where I came from as I form a new family."

Do you have a wedding day scent in mind?

"I have this amazing Japanese oil that I wear all the time, it's called Vertueux. I actually get it only in Japan when I go there. This incredible older woman makes it and it's all natural, derived from plant oils and botanicals and both Marlon and I love it. I think I'm going to mix my Vertueux with a white flower or Jo Malone scent. I am actually planning to wear fresh Gardenias in my hair as well. They smell so amazing."

Is there anything else you can share about your wedding hair and makeup?

"Allen Thomas Wood from Bumble & Bumble, is going to be working on three amazing different hairstyles. One of my good friends, Cassandra Garcia, who is one of the top makeup artists at Bobbi Brown is going to be creating a really classic look that is timeless. I looked through old pictures of myself and I just pulled the ones where I looked the best. I think this is a great technique for brides—go through your old albums, your old Facebook pictures, and pick out the pictures you look great in and recreate them in a better way."

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