Implicit in the term cabinet of curiosities—also known as a wunderkammer, the word used in Renaissance-era Europe to describe collections of objects and artifacts that gave birth to the earliest museums—is that the items on display are rare, eclectic, and esoteric.
By that definition, Cabinet of Curiosities: Vol. 1, the latest jewelry collection by Loren Teetelli, the designer behind Loren Nicole, lives (way) up to expectations. Featuring 13 one-of-a-kind jewels that incorporate extraordinary objects into rich 22k gold settings, the line unites Teetelli’s love of archaeology (the Los Angeles–based designer was pursuing a Ph.D. in the subject before she founded her jewelry business in 2016) with her expert gold craftsmanship, including ancient techniques such as granulation, chasing, and repoussé.
“It took me a little while to get comfortable with putting antiques in my work,” Teetelli tells JCK. “I had moral issues as an archaeologist—of whether I had the right to do it. But I’m not picking ultimate examples that would go in a museum. These are pieces that would probably sit on a desk.”
Teetelli began collecting the objects in 2018 with the intention of one day using them in her jewelry. Sourced from different art dealers, mostly based in London, the pieces originated across the ancient world: Egypt, Persia, Rome, Greece—one bronze cross even comes from the land of the Vikings.
The focus of the jewels—the majority of which are statement necklaces—is unequivocally on the artifacts, with the 22k settings designed to serve as pedestals or frames. But don’t make the mistake of assuming the goldwork was secondary to the collection. Teetelli is committed to working with high-karat gold, which she alloys at her studio in Hermosa Beach, Calif., for numerous reasons.
“I love the color,” she says. “I alloy it here from pure gold, with copper and silver in the alloy. One of the main reasons I work with 22 is that it’s necessary for many of the techniques I do. You need a certain amount of purity in the metal in order to fuse it.”
The simplicity of the goldwork is on display in one of Teetelli’s favorite pieces: the $13,000 ancient Egyptian faience goddess pendant depicting Hathor—the goddess of fertility, beauty, dance, and joy—holding the feather of Ma’at, an ostrich plume representing truth.
The collection starts at $6,500 for a Bronze Age bracelet featuring gold and diamonds (“I love the look of patina bronze with high-karat gold,” Teetelli says) and goes up to $63,000 for an ancient Persian bronze arrowhead lariat necklace.
“It took forever to get this arrowhead,” she says. “I sourced it from London but because it originated in Iran, special documents needed to be filed with the State Department before it could be imported. It took almost a year. This is my favorite piece of the collection.”
Currently at work on Cabinet of Curiosities: Vol. 2, Teetelli says her earlier hesitation about making jewelry out of ancient artifacts and antiques has all but disappeared.
“I’m comfortable because I’ve seen how excited and interested people get about history,” she says. “I just want people to be as interested in it as I am. I want to create that excitement in people.”
Top: Ancient Roman bronze lunula buckle brooch with original enamel (circa 200 A.D.) in 22k gold pendant with green and blue tourmaline, $8,000Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine