I often find myself driving across town—from my Los Angeles home, located down the street (literally) from the world-famous Hollywood sign, to the tony enclave of Beverly Hills—in order to meet jewelers and watchmakers on their home turf, usually within a three-block radius of Rodeo Drive.
The neighborhood is as wealthy and privileged as popular culture would suggest—which makes these visits at once exhilarating and dreadful. (I love the pomp and circumstance of the luxury business…except when I find it exhausting.)
But last Wednesday, when I visited the jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche, I had a profoundly different Beverly Hills experience. For starters, Aiche’s by-appointment-only showroom is located on a tree-lined street in one of the city’s more modest (yet still posh) residential districts, in a spacious, wood-floored apartment that’s part of a courtyard complex reminiscent of the 1990s TV series Melrose Place. I loved the showroom’s cozy vibe the moment I crossed the threshold.
Jacquie Aiche once lived in the Beverly Hills, Calif., bungalow that now serves as her luxurious yet cozy showroom. All photos provided courtesy of Jacquie Aiche.
Designer Jacquie Aiche
Aiche, a lifelong Angeleno, started out in the fashion retail business. She owned a clothing boutique on Sunset Boulevard until 2003, when she began designing her own jewelry. Her first collection centered on shark’s teeth, which remain a popular motif in her work, along with fossils, drusies, and minerals.
These shark’s tooth earrings are the latest iteration of a style that Jacquie Aiche started making in 2003.
Aiche’s love of minerals and organic materials is borne out in this extended finger ring featuring a green tourmaline crystal and shark’s tooth…
…and this cuff featuring a pink tourmaline crystal wrapped by a diamond band and paired with a slice of watermelon tourmaline.
In 2009, Aiche designed a “finger bracelet,” which looks just how you’d imagine: a ring connected to a bracelet by a delicate chain. The style—very Bohemian luxe—struck a chord with celebrities such as Rihanna. The resulting publicity earned Aiche, who used to live and work in the bungalow that now serves strictly as a showroom, quite a following.
“I had girls ringing my doorbell,” she recalls. “They couldn’t get enough of the finger bracelets.”
A three-diamond version of Aiche’s popular finger bracelet. (She now makes a 15-diamond version!)
Inspired by the success of the style, Aiche moved on to belly chains, toe-ankle bracelets, and—two years ago—ear cuffs. This year, for her inaugural appearance at the Couture show in Las Vegas, she introduced ear jackets.
Aiche wears a version of this belly chain every day. “It’s modern day La Perla,” she says.
Aiche’s 14k gold pavé diamond ear cuff.
Aiche describes her “body jewelry,” which retails from $1,700 to $10,000 (depending on the thickness of the gold chain and the amount of diamonds), as “the modern day La Perla—women don’t want to take it off,” she says. “It becomes an extension of your body.”
All the jewelry is handmade in Los Angeles in sterling silver and 14k gold, and it features a rich use of color. Aiche is drawn to offbeat gems, like ammonite, Laguna agate from Mexico, lapis lazuli, and turquoise (the last evokes her mother’s Native American heritage). As of this year, she is collaborating with the mining company Gemfields to create a line of finger bracelets featuring Zambian emeralds.
Aiche herself wears this stylish lapis ring.
Aiche’s impressive list of wholesale accounts—from Oster Jewelers in Denver and London Jewelers on New York’s Long Island, to stockists as far afield as Kuwait, Tokyo, and Paris—is an indication of just how well consumers have taken to her utterly wearable styles.
Four years ago, Aiche had a personal encounter that added a new signature element to her collection. She met a charismatic rabbi by the name of Sylvain, who practices a mystical form of Orthodox Judaism known as Breslev. The spiritual movement atarted by Rebbe Nachman in a Ukranian village 200 years ago resonated with Aiche, who subsequently collaborated with Sylvain on the Blesslev Amulets collection.
The pieces feature tiny scrolls inscribed with a Kabbalistic mantra that are tucked inside vibrantly colored pouches of exotic skins (snake, stingray) and strung from semiprecious beads in styles that range in price from $65 all the way up to $2,200.
The Blesslev Amulets collection features exotic skin pouches strung on strands of vibrantly colored gemstone beads.
A cream stingray skin pouch with an oval labradorite bezel set in 14k gold and surrounded by diamonds on a necklace of pyrite rondelles.
“I want to continue collaborating with interesting people and keep spreading the love,” Aiche said before insisting I take one of the amulets, a grey snakeskin pouch on a necklace of lapis beads. I’ve worn the amulet around my neck ever since.