It takes a special kind of jeweler to completely hone their own style—one that can only be theirs, and is instantly recognizable by those who know them.
Polly Wales is one of those jewelers. With her flair for creating wildly unrestrained, vibrant, unique pieces, even those who seek to imitate can’t come close.
The L.A.-based (but U.K.-born) creator’s latest, a line unapologetically labeled ClusterF@&$, is concocted from layers of gold and gemstones, huddled together in a way that’s almost indescribable except to say “Polly Wales made it.”
While the term clusterf**k generally refers to something gone awry, these pieces are anything but. Instead, the moniker is a fitting way to describe the designer’s playfully sophisticated, colorful (in appearance and language) way with jewels.
“The way that I design is very much led by the cast, not set process, and pushing the boundaries of the technique,” Wales tells JCK. “For this collection I wanted to lift the stones away from the surfaces of the pieces to add more dimensionality and a lightness to the work and do something very playful. The baroque form of the pearls very much determines where the clusters should go. I always look for arrangements that are unexpected but give energy to a design.”
Working with pearls in this fashion diverges from the designer’s norm—one reason the collection stands out so much (in addition to the obvious mind-bending aesthetics). “Getting to work with a new material was very exciting—due to our process, we are in the most part limited to sapphires, rubies, and diamonds. So the pearls give the opportunity for scale and an interplay between the pearls’ luminescent surface and the clusters, which felt playful and irreverent.”
Each piece has its own magnetism, but the one pictured at top—a distinctive pearl ring—has the heart of its creator. “My favorite piece from the collection is the Mother ClusterF@&$ pearl ring,” says Wales. “It’s one of the most gloriously weird objects I’ve ever made, and I was very excited to have it in my personal collection. However, it sold to a collector in Hawaii on its first soiree out in the big wide world. I love that the piece I made as a passion project—the wildest creature in the ClusterF@&$ collection—was the first to sell. It very much supports my belief that you should make the work that feels true and inspiring to you.”
For the holiday season, Wales expects that the Larkspur pearl padlock (pictured above) might be the “runaway success story of this collection,” she says. “The engineering of the padlock mechanism embedded within the pearl makes my heart sing, and the clusters blooming on the pearl’s surface, like lilies on a lake, feels romantic and poetic in a way that makes this a forever piece.”
Top: Mother ClusterF@&$ pearl ring in yellow gold with large irregular cloud-shape pearl and 6.06 cts. t.w. sapphires, $19,975; Polly WalesFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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