Raise your hand if you carry, own, or covet zodiac jewelry in its various forms. Or at least see it everywhere, now that personalized jewels and talismans are well-established jewelry trends that have yet to lose their luster. (See some new and vintage zodiac examples here, here, and here.)
If you’re a designer, having a zodiac charm series in a collection ticks all the trend, gifting, and personalization boxes—the genre is sure to resonate. But how do you make something so standard-issue feel vibrant and chic? What zodiac imagery do you embrace—the Greek symbols? Constellations? Or do you do something figural, incorporating, say, the horn of a sheep into an initial charm for Aries?
And if figural feels right—is there a way to render the motifs in a way that’s sophisticated, interpretive, and not so literal?
Designer Jade Trau has accomplished this precisely with a set of zodiac charms, part of her new Victoria collection, named after the queen who loved sentimental and symbolic jewelry.
“I wanted to begin with what felt authentic to me, so zodiac charms were the obvious first choice,” says Jade Lustig, the line’s designer. “As always with my pieces, I designed around the diamonds…the intention is always on making the diamond the defining characteristic of each piece.”
Indeed, the diamonds elevate each charm from trinket to true treasure. And yet there’s nothing vintage-y or overwrought about the pieces; rather, the zodiac motifs feel gestural but considered, the vocabulary economical and precise.
Sometimes a crab is a just a crab (and he arrives at the party true to form), but I thought the iterations of Gemini (with the twins’ faces in silhouette), Virgo (the virgin’s lovely mermaid-like swoop of hair), and Leo (the lion captured from behind, the textures of his mane meticulously windswept but not verbatim), and Scorpio (his pincers, the ridges of his exoskeleton) were exceptionally well done.
Later, via Zoom, Lustig told me that landing on the images was a research-intensive, laborious process that required multiple sketches (the original idea was penned on airline cocktail napkin). There were numerous rounds of production samples, and establishing uniform prices was a complex process in order to fairly account for each individual charm’s gold content, number of diamonds, and labor.
In the end, as you will see below, all signs point to a resounding, “Yes, please!”
Top: Libra scale charm with five brilliant-cut diamonds in 18k rose gold, $1,990Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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