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Behind The Scenes

Monica Ruzansky’s Rockin’ Guide to Mexico City

For the jewelry designer Monica Ruzansky, there’s no place like home. And though she finds New York plenty appealing, the exuberance of her native Mexico City has no rival. “The energy, the food, the nightlife—it’s addictive,” explains the mastermind behind AILI’s pared-down gems. So book a trip, visit six of Monica’s fave spots, and don’t be surprised if you never want to leave. —mattie kahn Contramar“This delicious place is on the fancy side but still casual. Every time I go back to Mexico, I have to visit it. Make sure to get the soft-shell crab taquitos, tuna sashimi, and the zihuatanejo tiritas—fish cured in lime. They also make their own fluffy and tasty tortillas. And all of this is best when you accompany it with a clamato-michelada.” (Durango 200, Roma, Cuauhtémoc) La Ostra“This is a more casual restaurant. I love this place for the aguachile de camarón, which is raw shrimp cured in lime and chili powder. I could easily eat an order for myself and not share.” (Nuvo Leon 109, Cuauhtémoc) La Lagunilla Market“La Lagunilla is a really great flea market, where you’ll find all kinds of Mexican vintage objects, old movie props, furniture, toys, clothing… I also go there to visit one of the regulars who sells stones and has an amazing selection of minerals.” (Rayón and Allende) Mercado de Sonora“This market is fascinating! It’s divided into different sections. On one side, there are traditional Mexican toys and piñatas. And on the other, there are all sorts things for white and black magic. You can find anything from soaps to attract love, amulets or herbs for any kind of medical condition…I highly recommend it.” (Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 419, Merced Balbuena) Parque de Chapultepec“The one place not to be missed is the Parque de Chapultepec. It is the biggest national park in Mexico. Have some flour chicharrones with valentine—a spicy sauce—as a snack while you go for a stroll around the lake, and then go up the hill to the castle for a magnificent view of the city. The castle is now a museum that was once the home of Maximiliano, the ill-fated emperor of Mexico.” (Periodista, Miguel Hidalgo) Covadonga“One place where I like to hang out with my friends is an old Spanish restaurant and cantina called Covadonga. You can still find men playing dominos. It is a simple but authentic bar—there is no music, but between the conversations of the crowd, you can hear the domino pieces falling, like a soundtrack to the night.” (Puebla 115, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc) Monica’s edition travels well. Get her ruby triangle necklace while you can.
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The Sustainable Making of Our AILI Edition

Monica Ruzansky is quick to name-check nature as a constant source of inspo for her daintily cool jewelry line AILI, and her earth-friendly approach to production completely backs it up. That means using environmentally friendly sourcing and working with people who are caring and meticulous about what they do. “There’s a lot of damage and waste in this world,” she says. “I want to do my part to repair that.” Here’s all the goodness that went into her Of a Kind piece. —mattie kahn “I try to use recycled metals whenever I can. You know, because every little bit helps. It is important to me to do my best to be environmentally friendly. Once a piece is finished, I recycle my scrap, either by melting it down or reusing it in a new piece. And here’s a trick: In the studio, I keep different little cups marked with the different gold karats for all the dust filings. Over time, you can get a good amount of gold dust. It’s so precious. You don’t want to waste a thing.” “Sustainability factors into design as well. The triangle shape of this piece symbolizes equality and balance. I use a lot of triangles in my work. I just think it’s a powerful shape. For me, it means stability and strength.” “I don’t do casting or setting myself. I hand that job over to the professionals! The setters that I work with are a sweet family that I met through my studio mates. They’ve been in business for years, and they know exactly what they’re doing. It’s special to be able to know the faces of the people that work with you. They’re your community. The rubies that they set and that are used for the edition come from Thailand and are cut in Bangkok, where the government oversees the cutting process in order to keep working conditions good and wages fair.” This killer necklace is available now! Just 20 in the whole wide world.
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