Published Mar 28, 2023
Star Trek: Picard Prop Master Demystifies Ro Laren’s Bajoran Earring
Plus, Jeff Lombardi talks about how RockLove brought the d’ja pagh to life for fans!
By Christine Dinh
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details from Star Trek: Picard Season 3, Episode 5 "Imposters"!
As Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan narrowly escaped annihilation at the hands of Vadic and the Shrike, the admiral must uncover how a Changeling saboteur boarded their ship undetected while facing the possibility of court martial. Both issues came to a head, in the Star Trek: Picard episode “Imposters,” with the arrival of Commander Ro Laren, who Starfleet has sent to investigate Picard and Riker’s treasonous activities commandeering the Titan and endangering its crew.
Ro Laren, the hot-tempered Bajoran officer, was last seen over 30 years ago in Star Trek: The Next Generation, abandoning her post at Starfleet to defect to the Maquis. Her betrayal deeply affected Picard as they took on a mentor-protégé relationship following his belief in her potential.
While interrogated by Ro, to quell his anger and Changeling suspicions, Picard questioned the commander where her d’ja pagh was as he recalled a time where he made an exception to Starfleet’s strict uniform code allowing her to wear the traditional Bajoran earring as it was a symbol of her faith. By episode’s end, out of sight from her security detail, Ro slips her earring to Picard, mere moments before her assassination at the hands of Changelings. With Riker’s help, they discover her d’ja pagh actually housed a data chip containing her entire investigation of the Changelings’ infiltration at the highest levels of Starfleet.
StarTrek.com had the opportunity to talk to Star Trek: Picard’s prop master Jeff Lombardi about bringing the iconic Star Trek: The Next Generation prop to Picard, how they collaborated with RockLove on the prop replica fans can now get their hands on, and more!
On First Contact
According to Lombardi, his introduction to Star Trek was a family affair. He made first contact via his stepfather, who he himself fell into the franchise through his family. Lombardi shares, “My stepfather was one of seven kids, and they were all Air Force brats. The family changed bases every couple of months to different bases around the world as their father was a colonel in the Air Force. He and his children were all impressed with Star Trek and its exploration of what the Air Force could eventually become in the future — not to mention UFOs!”
On the Design of Ro Laren’s Bajoran Cuff Earring
The Star Trek: Picard team is no stranger to infusing legacy props with their modern counterparts. Unfortunately for the prop master, the original earrings Ro Laren wore in Star Trek: The Next Generation was no longer in the Star Trek Archive’s possession, but they took the opportunity to incorporate a completely new design.
“Ro’s earring changed from season to season,” explains Lombardi. “It was important to the showrunner and I to create a d'ja pagh that was in the spirit of Bajoran art and culture that had evolved in the Star Trek universe since Ro's introduction in The Next Generation.”
“The new earring is modeled after more typical Bajoran imagery and insignia design and some prehistoric fossil influences,” Lombardi continues. “Ro's earring was more conventional circle shapes with lots of chains dangling interlinking the jewel with the top ear loop connection. The original earrings look good on an ear, but for our story purposes, we needed a simple design that could be handed over in the palm of the hand and instantly read as what it is — with or without much knowledge of Bajoran culture or Ro's TNG history.”
Lombardi is known for creating and remixing props based on legacy pieces; for example, Uhura’s original earpiece was incorporated into Seven of Nine’s Fenris belt in Season 2. Upon being asked if there’s anything we can share about the new design for Ro’s earring, Lombardi teases, “I like to sneak little influences of my own into props — things that I like and inspire me personally. In the case of Ro's earring, there is a subtle homage to a prehistoric sea creature I wonder if anybody else has picked up on.”
On the Star Trek x RockLove Collaboration
Star Trek has partnered with RockLove and its owner Allison Cimino since 2014, on the Star Trek: Picard Ro Laren Bajoran cuff earring marking the sixth collaboration. Another iconic Bajoran who had her d’ja pagh immortalized in an official prop replica was Kira Nerys’ earring as part of the 2021 Women of Star Trek collection.
Ro Laren’s cuff earring is the second collab between Star Trek: Picard and RockLove, following Season 1’s Omega necklace, worn by Dahj and Soji. Lombardi partnered with Cimino, favoring a jeweler who could translate his designs into a wearable reality. Lombardi states, “I have cherished the working with Allison ever since [Season 1]. She makes remarkable jewelry and is a great collaborator.”
On Connecting to Bajoran Culture to Fandoms
On the approach to Ro Laren’s updated earring design, Lombardi reveals, “What makes it so recognizable and important to Star Trek fans is the juxtaposition to our own world and the way we subconsciously or not link cultures to their dress and appearance.”
One element of the Bajoran culture, as seen in characters like Ro Laren, Lombardi relishes is “the fact that some Bajorans ignore the dress code is very punk rock,” which he recognizes that fans want to be a part of that.
There’s another Bajoran featured in this season of Star Trek: Picard — Lt. Matthew Arliss Mura, the Titan’s tactical officer. Lombardi states that Lt. Mura’s d’ja pagh is not alike with Ro Laren or Kira Nerys’ designs.
“That's the beauty of it,” notes Lombardi. “Lt. Mura's earring was designed and fabricated with the makeup effects department and Neville Page. Ro's earring fell into my wheelhouse as it was a hand prop not exclusively worn. The d'ja pagh is a family heirloom; there can be many different kinds stretching back many generations in the same way you might wear some of your grandmother’s jewelry or your grandpa's favorite watch.”
You can now snag your very own Star Trek x RockLove Picard Bajoran Cuff Earring! The prop replica is sculpted in solid sterling silver and plated in polished genuine rose gold, utilizing the exact same sculpts as those made for the show. Featuring a single hole piercing, the stud connects with a chain to an accompanying cuff that gently attaches higher up the ear lobe.