After a chance meeting at a busy diner counter in New York, Malu Byrne and Rick Low felt like they already knew each other. “Turns out we’ve been leading parallel lives and have many mutual friends, but our paths had never crossed,” says Byrne, daughter of musician David Byrne and costume designer Adelle Lutz, who chalks the encounter up to kismet.
That auspicious moment led to the creation of En—a jewelry line consisting of pieces Byrne and Low would wear themselves, making its debut this spring.
“Right from the very beginning of our friendship, Rick and I knew we’d make incredible creative partners. All we’d do for hours was talk about art and films and clothes, books, furniture, food, and get excited about what we would do if we were to make x,y, and z,” says Byrne, who began her career as a glass sculptor. When a friend asked her to create wearable versions of her work to accompany his soon-to-launch womenswear line, Byrne was first intrigued by the challenge of fabricating jewelery—then quickly became “completely hooked.” Based out of upstate New York, she went on to study jewelry under Gabriella Kiss (“the greatest mentor anyone could possibly hope for,” she says).
Like Byrne, Low also took a roundabout path to the world of jewelry after stumbling upon the Me&Ro store in Nolita while interning in New York’s Garment District. “The aesthetic was modern and personal—it wasn’t like jewelry I had seen before,” he explains. “I was desperate to work there and dropped my resume off dozens of times before I actually got an interview.” He went on to spend the next ten years working for the brand in a variety of roles both in and out of the jewelery studio. In 2014, he joined Jill Platner as director of sales and marketing—“and every single day since then I have managed to learn something new,” says the Brooklyn-based designer. “I love Jill’s jewelry and sculptures, and am in perpetual awe of her creative output and ability to make metal move in ways never imagined.”
Working in wide range of materials from gold to hand-carved stones and silk, Byrne and Low set about to design a collection of their own that would have broad appeal. “We want it to feel inclusive, with unisex options, and luxurious materials that everyone can enjoy,” explains Byrne. That includes rings forged from green gold and carved zebra stone, and silk rosaries embellished with terracotta and silver. Rings can be mixed and matched to create custom stacks in a rainbow of gold hues.
Both Byrne and Low understand the role of jewelry as a talisman and the deep personal connections forged by its wearer. “I have a carved crystal piece that Malu made me years ago,” says Low. “I definitely wear it when I need a boost or to feel protected.” Byrne draws on early memories of her mother wearing jewelry designed by her late aunt. “I remember watching the way she carefully handled them and how they gave her strength. It was so powerful,” says the designer, who inherited a few of the pieces. “I cherish them too much so they rarely see the outside world. I keep them on my wall as works of art.”
So it comes as no surprise that if you peek inside the band of En’s rose gold ½ round ring, you’ll spot a small diamond set within. “We feel that jewelry should empower you from within, so we’ve snuck in little gems that only you can feel,” explains Byrne. “A sweet secret. These stones can be added to any of our rings, and invites another layer of personalization and meaning for the wearer.”