‘High Priestess of Punk’ Goes Precious

Vivienne Westwood, the English fashion designer known as the High Priestess of Punk, has expanded her talents into precious metals and diamonds. The collection debuted in Basel with a gala party held in a tent on the fairgrounds.

The centerpiece of Westwood’s first fine-jewelry collection is—what else?—a gold safety pin with a diamond dangle.

“I love the safety pin for its humanity and functionality,” says the designer. “A pin is the oldest way to fashion and decorate clothes.” As for the diamond dangle, the designer says she’s been fascinated by diamonds since childhood.

“When I was 5 years old, I tried on diamond earrings,” says Westwood. “I was mesmerized by the effect they have. They’re transcendent. I kept taking them on and off. It’s amazing what they did for you—light, no light.”

During her teenage years, Westwood spent many a Saturday at London’s famous flea markets, and almost always she would buy herself a pair of gemstone earrings.

“Jewelry is just one of those things that has to be an epitome of oneself.”

When the time came to work in precious metals and gems, the designer didn’t find it difficult despite the fact that her entire career in fashion has been spent working with supple fabric rather than rigid metal.

“In clothes, I work according to the cutting principle, not the draping principle,” she says. “So I didn’t think about [the differences between fabric and metal]. I just deal with something I’m dealing with. Fashion has to be worn. It’s not art independent of the body,” she explains.

How did the idea of hard-core punk translate into fine jewelry? Simple—it remained true to the designer’s original spirit, hence the name Hardcore. “This experience of diamonds is the epitome of the diamond,” says Westwood. “It’s a little S & M.”

On the practical side, the collection has been designed and priced to appeal to a wide audience. In addition to the safety pin, it includes the Orb collection, another iconic shape central to Westwood’s designs. It also includes reinterpretations of classic hearts and arrows, all in a variety of price points and sizes from entry level to high end.

“The key point to this collection is that it be accessible but well made,” says James Maxwell of Vivienne Westwood Hardcore Diamonds. The collection is being manufactured by Hellmuth GmbH of Germany, a company known for its high-quality designs.