The idea behind Gold and Smoke was born more than a dozen years ago, when designer Kelle Phoundoulakis’ husband, Manos, returned from a gun-safety training session near their home in Santa Monica, Calif., with a souvenir.
“He did a handgun-safety training where they shoot against steel plates and he happened to look down and see one of the bullets was intact,” Phoundoulakis tells JCK. “It was highly unusual because they usually disintegrate. He brought it home, showed it to me, and I said, ‘That’s badass, it looks like a Roman coin. You should make a pendant out of it.’”
In the intervening years, Phoundoulakis pursued a career in Los Angeles real estate, and Manos made his name as a colored stone sales specialist, for firms such as Omi Privé. When the couple relocated to Denver in 2018, however, she dusted off the flattened bullet concept, and set about branding her designs, which feature spent bullets cast in 18k gold and oxidized silver, as empowerment jewels.
Transformative and talismanic symbols, they are intended to communicate to the wearer and the world “you are bulletproof,” according to Phoundoulakis’ catchy tagline.
“This jewelry is organic,” says Phoundoulakis, who also serves as cofounder of LuxeRox, a Denver-based firm that deals in elevated versions of mineral specimens. “The entire line is based around this design of a flattened bullet. It’s not perfect and precise; it’s organic and edgy.”
Positioned as a unisex collection, Gold and Smoke is newly available for wholesale. It features 18k gold designs that retail from around $790 for a simple flattened bullet pendant to $25,000, for a custom link bracelet hand-soldered in solid 18k gold.
The brand’s glitzier pieces are set with white and black diamonds, Montana sapphires, and tsavorite garnets, says Phoundoulakis.
The plan, she adds, is to show the collection at the Hard Rock Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver Sept. 8-11.
“I wanted to try something in the jewelry space that hadn’t been done,” says Phoundoulakis. “Typical gun jewelry represents guns. This is an artistic approach.”
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