Growing up in the 50s and 60s in the multi-cultural environments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong, the young Laura Chow — Regional Director and Southeast Asia Vice President of Lazare Kaplan International, Inc — was heavily influenced by the region’s socio-economic norms. Jewellery was seen as more than just fashion accessories. “They were tangible assets that retained their value far better than some of the currencies in developing countries,” shared Chow. “It was commonplace to see women, especially housewives, decked out in jewellery while doing their daily mundane chores.” In an era where jewellery shops were the “It” places for well-heeled ladies, Chow was introduced to the important relationship a woman has with jewellery very early in life.


Laura Chow


Please share with us your journey from being a sales representative for a lapidary and jewellery company to becoming Lazare’s Vice President for South East Asia.
I began my career in wholesaling for a Hong Kong-based lapidary and jewellery company, serving customers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and London. For a decade, I managed a lapidary factory in Kaoshiung, Taiwan, before subsequently returning to Hong Kong where I was occupied with the overseas marketing and exporting of jewellery, loose gems, and semi-precious stones. When I moved to Los Angeles in the 80s, I initially continued representing the Hong Kong company in the wholesale jewellery business.


Eventually, I moved into retailing and honed my skills in designing custom-made jewellery for a jeweller in Santa Monica, who happened to be retailing Lazare Diamonds. It was to be the beginning of a long and wonderful relationship with the brand. In 1990, Lazare Kaplan International, Inc of New York appointed me vice president and regional director for Southeast Asia. I was stationed in Hong Kong to spearhead the sales and marketing of its ideal-cut diamonds in the region. I began by working tirelessly with select local jewellers to develop exclusive distributors and promote Lazare Diamonds.


White Lazare diamonds bangle from RollerGlam collection


How does it feel like working for the company, being surrounded with all these beautiful diamond jewellery every day?
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. And being a woman, I can say that with conviction and without guilt. Surrounded with all that glitter and glamour, it is quite easy to get carried away, and that’s one of the occupational hazards, I dare say. But beyond the glamour, working for Lazare is a serious business. I face the same challenges as the next marketing executive selling mundane widgets for a manufacturer from Peoria, Illinois.


White Lazare diamonds necklace from RollerGlam series


You’ve been with Lazare for almost 30 years. What has changed then and now in terms of the brand’s design philosophy?
Like everything else that must stay relevant, our designs have evolved to embrace the changing tastes and fashion of modern times. Jewellery is to be worn and is therefore part of the ensemble that you wear for work and play. What you wear says a lot about you, and it is crucial that your jewellery is versatile enough to compliment a variety of styles. Today, people have embraced the idea that less is more, and this translates to minimalism in design.


Under your care, you managed to make Lazare one of the acclaimed diamond brands in the region. Please briefly share with us how you did it.
I am constantly pushing the message to consumers about Lazare’s most unique and original attribute: the ideal-cut diamond. The bottom line is that when consumers understand that every Lazare Diamond is ideal-cut to the highest standards, they can shop with complete confidence. It is all about the brand and what it stands for.


White Lazare diamonds pendant from RollerGlam series


Recently, you went back to your first love, designing jewellery, with the new RollerGlam collection. What prompted you to do it?
I always have an eye for minimalist design, and the RollerGlam has been many years in the making. With the advent of wearable technologies, I felt it was the right time to introduce a line of jewellery that compliments the clean-cut design of smartphones and smart watches, along with whatever may come our way in the near future.


Please tell us about the collection, and what’s your inspiration behind it?
I am fascinated with minimalism. Minimalism dictates that all forms, features, and concepts are reduced to the simplest and fewest elements to create the maximum effect. Minimalism, by that dictum, is engrained in the design of the RollerGlam Collection. At the core of the RollerGlam is a signature element — an oval tube, a segment of which is open to expose a Lazare solitaire in a tension setting. Its elegant simplicity minimises distraction and draws its audience to focus on what matters most, the brilliance and beauty of the Lazare Diamond. By piecing the signature elements together in varying number, sizes, and configurations, we can design a spectrum of jewellery from an elegantly simple solitaire to a sheer opulent necklace with hundreds of signature elements.


White Lazare diamonds ring from RollerGlam collection


What’s your favourite piece/pieces in the collection, and why?
If you had more than one child, you would never admit to loving one more than the other. In the same vein, I love every piece equally in the RollerGlam collection. And for me, personally, playing favourite would be challenging. What you wear says a lot about you, and your jewellery is an extension of your personality. I love meeting people and we all have different personalities. Variety is the spice of life.


Image opener: White Lazare diamonds earrings from RollerGlam series