On a visit to the eye doctor just prior to Thanksgiving, I became particularly aware of the exam lenses.
I remember noting how weird it was to be so mesmerized by something I’d seen so many times before, but now that I think about it, it’s not quite so strange at all. Their clear, crisp glass is somehow soothing, the sound the lenses make when flipped and changed a sort of sound therapy. “Which looks better?” the doctor asks. “This one”—click—”or this one?” (click, again). I think I’ve always had an appreciation for it.
That I found an eye exam the closest thing to ASMR (that stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, and YouTube is filled with videos related to it) is a sure, sad sign that I’m due for a solo trip to the spa, particularly given that an eye exam during the COVID-19 era had me questioning for two weeks afterward whether or not a new prescription was worth it. Turns out, it was—I got a sweet new pair of frames and I’m up to date for the year—but hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?
And that, my friends, is the perfect transition to the collection featured here today from Washington, D.C.–based brand Amulet by D, so dubbed Hindsight Is 20/20.
The collection takes my strange affinity for ophthalmologist office supplies to new, way more glamorous heights, as it actually incorporates vintage optometry lenses.
Utilizing the vintage lenses, sterling silver mesh, and a variety of loose gemstones, designer Doris Chou Durfee has recycled found materials and turned them into something that can be worn and appreciated forever. “I’ve been wanting to make a gem shaker pendant for some time, and have been looking at various materials and techniques that would allow the gems to be enclosed securely while showing them clearly,” says Chou Durfee. “I considered Thai amulet cases, medical vials, bike reflector pieces, commemorative coin cases—I wanted something that looked handmade and not machined. As I still make each piece by hand, I especially wanted a design that reflected my love of light and color, and emphasized the movement and sound of the gems.”
The designer finally landed on the lens idea after seeing the image of a monocle in an old book. “After some research, I was able to find a set of vintage optometry lenses from a couple in Minnesota with a small antiques business,” says Chou Durfee. “Creating a silver bezel and basket of sterling mesh (using a champagne cork to shape!) and setting the lens as the face allows for illumination and magnification of the gems within.”
The collection’s name, while a play on the notion of perfect vision, is also a celebratory sayonara to the year that brought us a pandemic. “I wanted to express my relief at ushering out 2020, and hopefulness in welcoming the new year with confetti,” the designer says.
Chou Durfee, who currently possesses about 15 of the vintage lenses—all in remarkable shape, considering their past lives—says she plans to expand on the collection. “This has been an especially satisfying collection,” she says. “I love the idea of lending a new purpose to an outdated tool, and the symbolism of examining our own perspectives on 2020 and the new year before us is not lost on me.”
Top: Hindsight Is 20/20 vintage eye exam lens pendant in sterling silver, brass, and steel with Herkimer diamond quartz, peridot, Mexican fire opal, garnet, aquamarine, sapphire, zeolite, green onyx, apatite, and grape agate, $400; Amulet by DFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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