Don’t be fooled by the unassuming, unadorned shell-pink cover. Cora Sheibani Jewels, a new title from ACC Art Books, may not be a coffee-table dazzler or a glamorous, gilded tome that weighs more than a toddler. But to page through its contents is to tumble down a rabbit hole of carved gemstones, cloud shapes, and gleaming colored aluminum (with a gorgeous mad genius of flame-red hair as your guide).
As Bob Colacello, editor of Interview in the 1970s and early 1980s, writes in the foreword: “Cora’s creations [are] made with a sense of play as well as great invention and craft.”
They are also the product of her highly active imagination.
Written by William Grant (author of Andrew Grima: The Father of Modern Jewelry), the book was published to mark the 20th anniversary of Sheibani’s eponymous jewelry brand. Buttressed by commentary and personal remembrances shared by Sheibani herself, it’s a faithful celebration of the Swiss-born, London-based jewelry designer’s unique point of view, which has created jewelry equal parts whimsical (hello, pills, puddings, and plant pots) and architectural (the Valence collection, inspired by diagrams of atomic structures).
The daughter of prominent Swiss art dealers and collectors, Sheibani recalls Jean-Michel Basquiat casually inviting her to make a painting with him in the family garage when she was 4 years old (she was Cora Bischofberger then). Her childhood bedroom had furnishings by Italian architect Ettore Sottsass. In 1983 her father’s gallery hosted a “Paintings for Children” exhibition by Andy Warhol—and there’s a photo of Sheibani, who was a toddler, at the show on page 20.
After an upbringing immersed in the world of fine arts, she attended New York University, where she graduated with a degree in art history in 2001. She held the first exhibition of her work in 2002.
All of this biographical background effectively provides Sheibani’s collectors and fans a more intimate context in which to appreciate the jewelry designer’s work.
Anyone who sees Sheibani’s jewelry can detect the influence of sculpture and surrealism along with a painterly approach to color, whether it’s citrine and carnelian carved into the shape of Bundt cakes or green and purple anodized aluminum used for the leaves in her now famous Pottering Around series.
But when you spend some time reading about her rise to acclaim, you become intimately acquainted with the trappings of her creative world. There’s even a photo of her bedside table on page 196.
You will come away with a deeper understanding of her design process and passions (“I like cooking and baking and now gardening, and these things have naturally entered my jewelry universe,” she says in the text)—and a feverish desire to acquire and wear her jewels, whether it’s a cupcake or a potted fern or a ring that glows with fluorescent gems.
Top: Cora Sheibani and the new book about her life and jewelry (photos courtesy of Cora Sheibani). Copper Mould, Glow, and Pottering Around photos by Richard Valencia/© Cora Sheibani.
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