Bringing a new jewelry collection to life is a challenging process in the best of times. Doing so in the middle of a pandemic is darn near heroic. The designers profiled below were all challenged by this year’s work-from-home mandates but still managed to create beauty amidst the gloom. Read on for insights into their design inspirations and how they navigated the difficulties posed by the lockdowns earlier this year.
Reflections By Brent Neale
In April, at the height of the spring lockdown, Brent Neale Winston, founder and designer of Brent Neale, sought solace in her sketchbooks. “For me designing is an outlet,” she says. “It’s the only thing I know how to do.”
As a lover of color, she had long been drawn to the geometric, minimalist designs of American painter Frank Stella, whose “Protractor” series, created in the late 1960s, featured semicircle shapes in bold rainbow palettes. Although transforming the images captured in the paintings into three-dimensional pieces of jewelry, using custom-cut hard stones set in 18k yellow gold, was no easy feat—“It was really trial and error as far as whether it was going to work,” she says—the resulting collection, Reflections, is a cheerful example of how well jewelry can soothe and delight.
Winston chose hard stones—such as chalcedony, carnelian, pink opal, amethyst, and rainbow moonstone—in a groovy color palette reminiscent of her muse, Marianne Faithfull, the 1960s singer-songwriter who famously dated Mick Jagger. In proper period style, Reflections is rife with swingy earrings, chunky cuffs, cabochon-cut rings, and bold pendants—and includes a capsule collection of hard stone hamsa pendants introduced earlier this year.
“I wanted to make something that seemed positive and felt like we were moving forward,” Winston says.
Muzo Emerald 2020 Designer Collaboration
For the fourth time since 2018, Muzo Emerald, the mining company based in Colombia’s legendary Muzo district, has partnered with a slew of top-notch designers on a collection of jewels starring its responsibly sourced gems. And for the first time, the pieces showcase its faceted stones.
Between the 10 designers who teamed with Muzo this year—Colette, Harwell Godfrey, Jenna Blake, Katherine Jetter, Loren Nicole, Nina Runsdorf, Michelle Fantaci, Robinson Pelham, Silvia Furmanovich, and Sorellina—the range features 34 pieces, priced from $1,000 to $100,000, that were conceived and created in the eye of the COVID storm.
When Lauren Harwell Godfrey, founder and designer of Harwell Godfrey, received her selection of gems earlier this year, they provided a sorely needed creative boost.
“We were sheltering in place, and I was feeling very isolated and to get this package of emeralds and let my imagination wander was really a gift,” she said on a Zoom presentation moderated by journalist Tanya Dukes during New York City Jewelry Week. “I spent a lot of time thinking about how do I honor these stones, but also keep it true to my brand language.”
Wildest Dreams By Jacquie Aiche
It stands to reason that quintessential Los Angeles jeweler Jacquie Aiche looked to the beach for inspiration in designing her newest collection, Wildest Dreams.
“Given all of the time we’ve spent at home these past months, I feel incredibly blessed that I live so close to the California coast,” Aiche tells JCK. “The natural beauty that surrounds me, whether it’s the grounding energy of the mountains or the calming ocean air, has been my greatest source of peace, clarity, and inspiration. The adornments in our Wildest Dreams collection are infused with the intention to always remember that life is a gift. And it is meant to be loved and honored.”
Wildest Dreams is a sprawling collection of unisex diamond tennis bracelets and necklaces, hand-carved thunderbirds, gem-set rings, and crystal pendants united by their underlying spirituality.
“I wanted my tribe to feel a deep sense of connection to the earth and to the power that is constantly shining within them,” Aiche says. “Each motif and mineral used has been consciously chosen based on the healing properties they inspire.”
Top: Large Marianne necklace in 18k yellow gold with 1.3 cts. t.w. diamonds, rainbow moonstone, and carved stones, $28,000; Brent NealeFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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