There’s a lot of good jewelry out there (something is keeping us all in business, right?), but every once in a while, there’s a spectacular piece that gets one feeling totally and completely gobsmacked. For me, most recently, that experience came from the New York–based Hannah Blount Jewelry.
You hear the terms wearable art or art to wear often, I’m sure, so often that they may begin to lose their meaning. All jewelry is art in one way or another—much of it, anyway—but some pieces embody the word so exquisitely they seem to own it. Blount’s Ophelia Submerged is a prime example of that, possibly because it appears like a painting come to life.
The likeness of Ophelia in the water, a scene from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, has been portrayed countless times, beautifully so in photography, wedding portraits, fashion features, and more. But the original depiction is Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia; the painting is considered one of the most important works of the 19th century.
While the scene in Hamlet describes Ophelia’s death, modern interpretations aren’t always tragic: A woman afloat in water, dress billowing all around her, appears sensual, ultra-feminine, and at peace. Of course, the image could also look to someone like a woman in despair, sinking deeper into the water as a way to escape the life that plagues her. It really is a matter of interpretation.
For Blount, the piece is mostly about celebrating the shape of a woman. “This [piece] is really meant to be a female’s embrace of a woman’s body—I feel very strongly that women appreciate the female form even more than men,” the designer tells me. “We [women] are taught to be insecure about our bodies and the natural beauty it holds, especially the flaws. If you look closely, the two breasts are different shapes and sizes, facing slightly different directions. I’ve always loved this about boobs—they aren’t symmetrical, and it makes for such an interesting silhouette. Women not only appreciate the beauty of the female form, but we identify with it, imperfections and all. There is power in that identity. And I wanted to create a calm and stoic representation of Ophelia in the water, physically exposed, as she is so emotionally exposed in Hamlet.
“It is also inspired by the sculpture En sueños, dormida, Alfonsina, vestida de mar, by my old studio neighbor and dear friend Raphael Jaimes-Branger. I posed for him and let him take a mold of my face and my hands. I loved the idea of more than a face in the water.” (You can view that sculpture here.)
I feel incredibly strongly about this desire to celebrate our bodies (especially as a woman currently in her ninth month of pregnancy). And when I first saw Blount’s piece—and perhaps my opinion is influenced by my personal desires at the moment—I saw a woman relaxed. Alone, if only for a few moments, surrounded by beautiful water and the free feeling of floating, weightless physically and mentally. Life goals, if you ask me (and while we’re being aspirational, diamond nipples wouldn’t be so bad, either).
The ring (yes, it’s a ring!) is made with Kazakhstan turquoise, brilliantly purposed as the pond for our sweet golden lady to lie in. The design is part of Blount’s Cameo collection, featuring the faces of empowering women, “a love letter to art nouveau and a symbol of the soft power, strength, femininity, and perseverance found in all who identify as a woman,” as the description on the designer’s website says.
The incredible piece is one of a kind.
Top: Ophelia Submerged ring in 18k yellow gold with 7.05 ct. Kazakhstan Golden Hills turquoise and 0.01 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,300; Hannah Blount JewelryFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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