What comes to mind when you think of Y2K? For me it was boy bands (Team NSYNC!), American Eagle Outfitters, the latest Victoria’s Secret perfume, and—the punch line—bold, playful jewelry.
Because what does one wear while waiting in line (can you believe we physically had to wait in a line?) to buy tickets to the next NSYNC concert? Whatever AE was selling us at the moment: far too much cheap perfume, hoop earrings, and some kind of crazy colorful jewelry. Oversized flowers or bugs, a ring that was also a little snow globe, a necklace dangling a heart as big as your fist, bold resin bangle bracelets in solid colors or made to look like a goldfish was swimming inside. If it was playful and made a statement, it was worn.
Today’s popular fashion jewelry is taking some cues from that era, most brands just a touch of this and that, but not Studiocult. The New York–based brand has gone full-on Y2K with its offerings, serving up jewelry that looks as much fun to play make-believe with as it does to be worn.
Founder and creative director Yuliya Veligurskaya offers fashion jewelry in addition to sunglasses, handbags, and accessories custom-made for businesses, all with a signature statement-making style.
Here’s Veligurskaya on how it all got started, her favorite custom design and what it symbolizes, and what comes next.
How did this even begin, creating pieces like these? What inspires you?
I left my job in architecture to start my own venture. I got into jewelry because I found it to be a really practical medium in which I could express my artistic vision—it’s a very accessible product in terms of unit costs, ease of shipping and storage, etc. I fell in love with jewelry along the way.
I would describe my work as love letters to everyday objects and experiences. I am concerned with something I like to describe as “crumbs of shared memories:” the feelings, thoughts, and sensations our collective society has with ubiquitous objects. My work is to capture these experiences into my perceived definition of their common denominator. They’re really clever designs that just make sense, almost as if they were lodged in the recesses of your mind. It’s as if you remembered them.
Can you tell us about one of the most interesting custom styles you’ve ever made?
One of my favorite pieces conceptually and technically is our It’s a Trap! ring [shown above]. It is a sterling silver ring with a cubic zirconia askew inside a setting that looks like a bear trap with a “chain” shank. I don’t typically use stones in my work because I feel they take away from the conceptual strength of the design. They’re very attention-grabbing, a strong point of focus that commands the eye. Given this constraint, I thought to design a ring where their stone gets to be the main character in the narrative. The thought process was then to think the most popular stone—diamond, but we opted for CZ to get the look—and then the most popular thing associated with diamonds: marriage. I then examined my own thoughts on the subjects: how much society covets this kind of relationship and, yet, the staggering reality of divorce rates. Are we swindled by the expectations we are born into? Are we hypnotized by the prismatic glow of a diamond, as if its value and beauty will be reflected in our union? Finding “the one” is many, if not most, people’s most important [quest]. I think marriage can be an incredible thing, but the happiest moment of our life is always in the present. Speaking as a woman, let’s not wait for a wedding or an expensive ring to give us permission to experience the worthiness, belonging, fulfillment, and joy we have access to at any given moment.
What is the typical Studiocult customer like?
Our customers are really expressive and creative individuals. They are looking to wear something that allows them to be seen and strike up a conversation. We’ve tried making some “basics” type of styles in the past, but people really gravitate toward our more adventurous work. People come to us to shop for something fun and lighthearted, and we take a lot of pride in that—especially at a time when things feel so serious. It’s our intention to provide a wholesome oasis on our site and social platforms in a sea of endless scrolling through news stories and negativity. We’re all about youthfulness, positivity, and fun, and so are our customers.
Can you share any plans for future jewelry offerings?
Right now we are working on the steady growth of our fine jewelry collection as well as expanding our fashion jewelry and handbag collections. I can’t disclose too much on specific projects at the moment, but what I can confirm is that we are excited to continue our pursuit of creating good ideas and providing that warm and fuzzy feeling to our fans.
Top: Skinny Dip ring in sterling silver with resin and enamel, $375; Studiocult
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