When Alp Sagnak, the Turkish jeweler behind New York City–based Atelier Minyon, learned about quarks—the smallest particles inside a proton—he set out to make a jewel that represents “energy shooting into the proton and hitting the quark,” he says. In scientific illustrations, the process resembles an hourglass—hence the hourglass at the center of each of these complex earrings. The gold bows denote the energy shooting into the quark, while the ruby- and diamond-covered cages symbolize “DNA structures that swirl around the quark,” explains Sagnak, who says he’s aware that the average customer might be baffled by his explanation. “My work is all about [exploring] the two egos—a person’s naive side and the wild side,” he says. “This represents my wild side.”
The dazzling drops, measuring 5 centimeters in length, feature 18k gold bows topped with horse heads, 0.8 ct. t.w. Burmese rubies, 0.44 ct. t.w. diamonds, and tiny oxidized silver-and-glass hourglasses encasing diamond and ruby dust.
Sagnak considered putting “blood, sperm, or cocaine” inside the hourglasses, he says, but settled on gemstone dust because “the big bang has been described as the collision of the quarks and diamonds were formed in the big bang.” Oxidized silver pins hold the hourglasses—which actually spin, tumbling the dust—inside the bows. The horse heads are a nod to medieval weaponry, says the designer.
The decadent danglers recently sold for $11,500 to a client and are part of a larger Quark collection that includes a double-finger ring and a four-finger ring that boast even tinier hourglasses. “Every collection I do has a meaning,” adds Sagnak. “It’s not just sitting down and trying to make a bow. I use the most poisonous flowers in the world, the most dangerous animals in the world as inspiration.”