LUZ (the Spanish word for "light" and pronounced "lose,") is, according to Houman, "what you feel. My LUZ, how I feel, or experiences I have with LUZ are different from your LUZ, and the experiences you have in your life, and who would be LUZ for you or what would be LUZ for you." Confused? You should be, according to Houman, because love, he says, is characterized by "complexity and confusion."
It is that complexity that inspired Houman to create LUZ. "There are a lot of hidden things. It's kind of like sculpture - where you have to stare at it from all the different angles ... Each side [of the ring] represents something. One side is love, the other side is passion, the other side is desire, and then the top part where it comes to a point, that's boundaries," he says. Add to that eight red ruby accents to represent the color of love and passion, and you have the collection's first signature piece.
As with any labor of love, creating LUZ was no easy task. It took Houman two-and-a-half months of brainstorming, sketching and soul-searching to come up with LUZ, and another month-and-a-half after that to produce his first prototype. "There's a lot of passion in the line," he says.
Houman, who grew up in France, is no stranger to passion himself. He has been zealous about jewelry since he was a child, spending time in his parents' jewelry store. That inspired him to enter a five-year jewelry arts program in Toronto. After earning his degree, Houman began manufacturing jewelry in Nantucket, Mass., during which time he earned a Platinum Guild Award. In 2000, longing for warmer weather, Houman moved to San Diego, where,
three years later, he opened Houman Jewelry Design in Coronado. Recognition came again in 2005, when he won the People's Choice Award as Coronado's best jewelry designer.
Walking into the store, it's easy to understand why. Gone are the rows of sterile glass cases associated with many large chain jewelry stores. In their place are warm wood display cabinets, as artfully arranged as the jewelry itself. Hardwood floors and pulsating music add to Houman's boutique atmosphere, and an interior window offers a view of the jewelry-making process.
All of Houman's pieces are hand-crafted at the store, which adds to their allure. "Each piece is going to get individual attention," Houman says. "It's not something that we're going to mass produce and just throw out there.
Houman says LUZ is not for everyone. "It's very bold; it's very big and gutsy."