Some people go for jewelry that’s all glitz and glamour, and as I walked around the JCK show for the first time two weeks ago, I can now say I completely understand and respect that. As for me, I learned through that massive, wonderful jewelry show that I have a definite thing for…interactive jewelry.
It’s likely not an industry term. But pieces such as reversible flip rings, fidget pendants, movable charms, and anything else that surprises or delights the wearer and the viewer is my sweet spot. I guarantee if your booth had something remotely like this, I stopped to gape, ask questions, and learn more.
To that end, I asked Jess Velke, Maejean Vintage’s social media guru and head of its popular TikTok channel, to explain a bit about interactive jewelry—which seems to have some connection as well to the 1980s/Y2K throwback trend in jewelry happening right now. Velke says the company finds these unique pieces sometimes by chance, as they are sourcing vintage and antique pieces.
“Now that we know how popular they are with our customers, we do specifically keep an eye out for them,” Velke says. “With the recent popularity of fidget toys, people have found that it’s nice to have something to channel their nervous energy into. These are like wearable fidget toys for adults.
“It’s a bit like when someone gets complimented on a dress they’re wearing and can proudly announce ‘Thanks, it has pockets!’ If someone compliments me on my ring and it can flip over to reveal another side, you can bet I’m going to show them what it can do,” Velke says.
It’s definitely attention-grabbing, and that’s why Maejean’s social media posts about interactive jewelry are addictive and shareable, Velke says. Interactive charms are another big hit.
“We’ve had silver or solid gold charms in the form of everything from tiny hourglasses with sand inside, cameras with moving cranks and hidden compartments, a high chair with a moving tray, scissors that open and close, jack-in-the-boxes that open and close, a moving seed pearl abacus, and ‘mad money’ box charms that have dollar bills folded up inside,” Velke says.
“As a primarily vintage and estate seller, so far the interactive jewelry we’ve had in our shop has been vintage or pre-owned, but due to the popularity we’ve been exploring creating our own line of vintage-inspired interactive jewelry in the future,” Velke says.
I also asked designer Larissa Loden about her interactive jewelry, especially the eye-grabbing and sort-of-threatening power of her Judith necklace. Loden has a “take no prisoners” approach to her social media and her jewelry; it’s always fun, provocative, and wicked smart.
Plus, if you name your necklace after a world-famous female icon and painting from Artemisia Gentileschi, then I’m going to need to know why.
“I made the Judith necklace as a new and improved version of our discontinued Be Prepared necklace,” Loden says. “I wanted something that looked sophisticated when wearing it closed but then have a shock and delight aspect when you find out it is a knife. My favorite is when people use the knife necklace to open up boxes and other day-to-day tasks like that.”
Here are some of my favorite pieces of interactive jewelry I saw at the JCK show or have found on what I call “sparkly Instagram” (the jewelry-focused social media feed I am curating as part of my work here at JCK).
One is Terry Castro, founder and designer of Castro NYC. His cat charm has a mask that opens and closes, and his overall social media is packed not only with his charm but also the must-have works of art he is creating for his customers in real time.
“Movement is fun. Movement is life. We must enjoy it before one day we can’t move. This is the reality,” Castro says. “The mask is part of a West African ceremony. And holds power for the wearer.”
One more favorite from the JCK show is from Lauren Rubinski. If you know writers at all, you know that we’re obsessed with words and wordplay. So, if you present me with a pendant that replicates a beloved childhood toy and add the romantic sentiment that it spells out “I love you” in a whimsical way, you know you have a fan for life.
Because, after all, jewelry is about catching someone’s eye and making sure they don’t forget you. And this puzzle is the perfect way to get attention and keep it.
Top: The kind of rings that Maejean Vintage is seeing huge traction on TikTok with are interactive, meaning they have some movement or surprise element that charms the brand’s audience (photo courtesy of Maejean Vintage).@jckmagazine
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