Artist Angie Crabtree transforms oil paint and canvas into photorealistic paintings of luxury: designer bags, women’s name-brand heels, one-of-a-kind sneakers, and, most notably, diamonds and precious gemstones.
Now she is taking some of her favorite inspirations—those gems and diamonds—and turning them into wearable art. Her first line of fine jewelry is available now, and Crabtree says the rings, earrings, and necklaces she has designed are a natural evolution of her work, inspired by her personal and professional life.
AC Jewels as a collection is striking in many ways, especially the pendants. These feature a cutout on the back, allowing the wearer to see the details of the gem or diamond through Crabtree’s initials. Her work ranges in price from $650 each for her petite stacker rings to $45,000 for a diamond necklace featuring 21 carats of Asscher-cut diamonds in 18k gold.
All of Crabtree’s jewelry is a limited edition. For example, the Asscher-and-round diamond necklace has a run of five pieces. Each purchased piece also comes with either one of Crabtree’s original paintings or a signed print.
Crabtree says she started working on fine jewelry during the pandemic, which felt like the right time to devote herself to the design and manufacturing of the kind of pieces she hopes others will hold as dear as she does.
“Every piece is a piece of art to me,” Crabtree says. “I imagine them on pedestals in my gallery, so I want them to be seen as art pieces.”
Crabtree has a fine arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute and has a Los Angeles–based art studio and gallery. She works in a variety of mediums, including oil paint, sculpture, video, and, recently, performance art. These works all have a thread back to Crabtree’s longtime inspection of luxury culture and what today’s society values and desires.
She began painting luxury goods somewhat accidentally, Crabtree says. Her first work was a five-foot-tall diamond for a 2012 show examining luxury and materialism. That piece created a chain reaction, and private as well as corporate commissions for similar works began rolling into her studio.
“People started requesting me to paint their rings,” Crabtree says. “When I started, I didn’t know diamonds came in other shapes, so I started researching.… Being a part of the jewelry world has opened my eyes as to what it means to accessorize yourself. If you’re not a painter, then your body is the canvas.”
Her most well-known commissions include the 14.93 ct. Pink Promise diamond and Chopard’s 342 ct. Queen of Kalahari diamond. Yet she also wants to make her artwork and jewelry accessible, so she creates items such as cell phone cases that feature gemstones. Her latest solo exhibition, Flawless, runs through Aug. 14 at her Beverly Hills gallery.
Crabtree considers her paintings and jewelry as portraits, telling the story of each gem or diamond. She sees gem cutting and jewelry as an artistic effort, so adding her take on it felt natural.
On the personal side, Crabtree is now married to a jeweler, so she sees the jewelry industry through an insider’s lens as well.
“People may need to keep their stones safe and locked away, but if they have a portrait [of that stone], they have something to show people. They can talk about it and tell the story,” Crabtree says.
Top: With her new fine jewelry collection (shown here on a model), designer Angie Crabtree took her decade of knowledge about gems and diamonds as well as her customers’ requests to create a limited-edition line of rings, earrings, and pendants (photos courtesy of Angie Crabtree).
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