Saturday, March 23, 2013
The Wall Street Journal today ran an article by Jenni Avins called “Falling for the Flip Side” about jewelry with secret details. I so wish I had been included in this story because the first paragraph captures my design philosophy so well:
“To the casual observer, jewelry is all about catching the eye—how a stone captures the light, or the way a certain shade of gold complements the skin. But for some jewelers, the undersides and interiors of their pieces—places that are usually only noticed by the wearer—merit as much attention as the exteriors.”
Later in the story, Dr. Amin Jaffer, international director of Asian Art at Christie’s, says of this jewelry style, “It’s a holistic approach to jewelry as a work of art.” That’s well-put too.
Or you could explain it more irreverently, as I did earlier this year to Jennifer Heebner, a senior editor at jewelry industry publication JCK Magazine, while showing her my Frog and Prince “Maneater” Ring: “It’s like a pretty girl who’s smart too!” I mean, I love a piece that looks beautiful when you give it a superficial once-over …
… but it’s just as important to me that, when you get to know the piece, you find something deeper. In the case of the frog ring, it’s a prince with diamond eyes tucked inside the band.
The first pieces I did with a surprise inside — like Cracker Jack! — were my Juana “peekaboo” skull pieces, which I started doing in 2006. (I wrote about the inspiration for them here in 2008.) The first one was a necklace in 18K yellow gold and rubies that is innocent on the outside …
… and spooky on the inside.
I delight in pieces with mechanical elements like the Juana. As I wrote on my website’s About page, I wrote, “Expect the unexpected, including jewelry that opens up, twists into new shapes and even whistles.” With my Hathor swivel earrings, you get two pairs of earrings for the price of one. The Hathor looks gorgeous in carnelian …
… but if you want a fresh look look, press gently on the center to swivel it …
… and wear the turquoise side out instead.
Of course, there are other ways to amaze the customer. Sometimes it’s just an unexpected feeling when you try on the jewelry, as I mentioned on my About page: “Rings are surprisingly hefty, often incorporating more than an ounce of 18K gold for a luxurious feeling that will spoil you for anything less …” Just yesterday, I wrote about how I wouldn’t make my tiniest stud earrings as lightweight as the manufacturer suggested, because that sensation of quality is so important to me.
I also like to astonish people with my extreme attention to detail. I always direct attention to the snout wrinkles and nostrils on my Isabella wolf-fang necklaces and the veins on the underside of my 18k-gold oak-leaf pendant. My Empress Wu dragon earrings — which recently placed third in the Pearl Jewelry/Over $10,000 category in the 2013 JCK Jewelers’ Choice Awards competition — are my pride and joy as far as this kind of work goes.
The 18K-yellow-gold dragons have 18K-rose-gold tongues. The diamonds in their horns are set in platinum. And each dragon has two tsavorite eyes, even though one of the eyes is hidden when the earrings are on.
There’s a funny anecdote in the Wall Street Journal story, related by the son of the late designer Munnu Kasliwal of Gem Palace in India. Siddharth Kasliwal remembered, “‘One lady asked, “Why should I pay for the reverse when nobody sees it?” He said, “Why do you buy expensive lingerie when nobody sees that?”‘” I’m not obsessed with lingerie, I admit, but I have always enjoyed the jewelry equivalent. The onyx skull ring at the top of this blog was my first design of that ilk. I think it looks spectacular at first glance …
… but the diamonds inside are the real turn-on for me.
Right now, the ring that’s decorated inside is my favorite style of what the Journal called “covert luxury.” As I’ve said, the Frog and Prince ring is the first of my Maneater collection and the next two designs are well underway. I can’t wait to show you their hidden treasures!