Jennifer Lau launched her partly eponymous jewelry line Genevieve Lau about eight years ago. (There was another Jennifer Lau jewelry designer in Brooklyn, New York, at the time, so Lau opted to use the French version of her name.) She was running her own styling business after leaving a demanding career as an equity sales trader to spend more time with family. “I realized I couldn’t find fine jewelry that was at a price women could self-purchase,” she remembers. “There was tons of plated costume jewelry, but there was something missing in the market.”
The Westport resident felt it was important to work with local manufacturers, so she teamed up with jewelry makers in Westport and New York City to create a collection of affordable luxury pieces — bracelets, rings, earrings and necklaces made from 14-karat gold and precious stones in chic, contemporary silhouettes. “Now, I’m in about 10 stores throughout the country,” Lau notes, adding that Mitchell’s, Richard’s and The Mayflower Inn carry her pieces in Connecticut. “I wanted to make women feel great and confident about the way they look, and I think jewelry does that for people.”
Lau’s pieces make women feel great in more ways than one. When Lau’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, she met many struggling families who were going through the most difficult time in their lives. She was inspired to pay it forward, so for every one of her popular “Loved” necklaces sold, she donated one to a woman with cancer. To date, she has given 850 of them.
Today, Genevieve Lau has five pieces that give back, offering a one-for-one model to benefit those struggling with cancer, mental health issues or Alzheimer’s, and for children with cancer or heart defects. “It’s my favorite part of being a jewelry designer, that I have the ability to give back and make other people feel loved,” Lau says. “Getting emails, phone calls or handwritten letters from people who have received these necklaces is the best.”
In Connecticut, Lau works with charities like Pink Aid, the Breast Cancer Alliance and St. Baldrick’s Foundation to distribute necklaces, but her pieces have now touched struggling families across the country. “Someone told me the way you feel really successful is when you’re able to give back and affect others,” she says. “I really feel that way. I can sell tons of jewelry and put it on celebrities, but the way I feel I’ve succeeded and truly joyful is knowing that I’m able to impact so many people’s lives.”
Jennifer Lau’s 5 favorite Connecticut charities