January 29, 2023


Unique & Classy

For These Jewellery Designers, All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

6 min read

While metals, gemstones and pearls have been the staples of jewelry style for hundreds of years, some makers are now acquiring inspiration in far more abnormal elements, such as glass, horn and wood. Even soda cans.

“Disposable cans and plastics have been regarded insufficient for jewellery,” reported Eunseok Han, a jewellery artist based in Seoul. “However, I thought we could make lovely jewelry with these discarded non-important elements.”

Right here are the tales of Ms. Han and 4 other designers who are functioning to elevate unconventional products to jewelry art.

Seoul, South Korea

“I began making jewelry with recycled cans in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic commenced,” Ms. Han, 49, said in a video job interview from her atelier in the Korean funds. She mentioned that she experienced been pondering about operating with discarded objects for some time, but the environmental enhancements that occurred all through the early lockdowns — like the worldwide drop in greenhouse gases — inspired her to start off experimenting, crafting pieces out of aluminum soda and beer cans.

Mates and family members now present her with cans, and she collects other people from recycling bins — separating them by colour and lettering design — then reducing each individual can into items and utilizing adhesives to glue the pieces jointly. The closing part of the system requires working with polylactic acid, a renewable plastic normally called PLA, to affix the aluminum pieces all around a main in the form that she needs to make.

“I want bright shades,” Ms. Han explained, including that she sees this eye-catching palette as a way of concentrating interest on the vibrant hues of corals that are disappearing simply because of air pollution and worldwide warming. Her selection consists of earrings, rings, brooches and necklaces, with more compact pieces starting up at $300 and much more intricate kinds likely for $1,500.

Ms. Han began making jewellery in 2000 just after earning a Master of Wonderful Arts in metalcraft from Dongduk Women’s College in Seoul. In the beginning, she developed traditional Korean designs in gold and silver she then started incorporating gems, wooden, plastic and enamel into her parts for a lot more variety. She sells her work by means of her Instagram account and by way of galleries these kinds of as the Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Mass. Charon Kransen Arts in New York Town and Bini Gallery in Melbourne, Australia.

“As we pass the Covid-19 period, we realize once more the great importance of nature and the want for endeavours to maintain it,” Ms. Han said. “As an artist, I’m building jewelry out of recycled cans in a small effort and hard work to do my element.”

Los Angeles

Ms. Wheeler, 37, stated she thought that there’s anything about wood, in particular, that built for distinctive jewellery. “I believe it provides a real grounding, earthy ingredient to it. It’s so dense and dark,” she mentioned in a movie interview from her residence in Los Angeles.

Lately the designer has been doing the job with ebony. Considering the fact that the International Union for Conservation of Character (IUCN) lists the content as endangered, she experienced to discover an moral way to acquire it. “It ended up staying a sculptor who experienced acquired a big log in the ’80s and experienced some left above,” she explained. For her Belle earrings and cuff established, ($119,000 for the earrings and $116,000 for the cuff), Ms. Wheeler paired the darkish wood with diamonds, white enamel and mild pink morganite. “I have often preferred to blend matte carved substance with a lot more common faceted gemstones,” she claimed.

The designer, who is self-taught, introduced her good jewellery selection in 2016. She now works with a sustainability mentor to ensure that her models are created of recycled gold and responsibly sourced gems, and she commonly employs local artisans in the United States to craft her models, in get to reduce waste and lessen the carbon effect of her operate. “Nothing we make is mass developed,” she explained. “We glimpse at the personal piece and think: ‘Who is the greatest individual to make this piece?’”

This summer months, Ms. Wheeler introduced a new collection, called Bernadette, in honor of her daughter, who was born in April. The styles, which pair lively hues with comfortable pastels, are a nod to 1960s statement items. “These have petrified wood on the exterior,” she said, referring to the Painted Desert earrings. ($50,000) “This particular piece I observed in Tucson, and it was just so colourful and gorgeous.”

Ms. Wheeler’s jewellery is sold on her web site and by Net-a-Porter, as effectively as in suppliers, like Harrods in London and boutiques these types of as Elyse Walker in California and Marissa Collections in Naples, Fla.

Yamanashi, Japan

Glass is the only material employed by Bubun, the jewelry line created by the wife-and-spouse staff of Megumi Jin, 38, and Nobuyuki Jin, 43. In Japanese, bubun is the phrase for “part” — the pair selected it for their model due to the fact they consider jewelry results in being “part of a human being, equally in the physical feeling and in the non secular sense,” Ms. Jin wrote in an email from their residence and workshop in Yamanashi, Japan.

The pair satisfied about 10 several years ago though they were being functioning for a leather products company they still left in 2016 to get started Bubun. “Nobuyuki saw a pair of glass earrings that I had been building and said he preferred to acquire a collection based on them,” Ms. Jin claimed, introducing that she to start with turned fascinated with glass as a teenager.

“Over the several years, I have occur to experience that glass is a medium that can convey an inner sensation that is complicated to categorical in words and phrases on your own,” she mentioned. “It’s not a regular substance for jewelry, and when compared to valuable metals and precious stones, the substance by itself has little price. But its price is produced by the intensity of expression of its thought, condition, strategy and handwork.”

The pair craft their jewelry from glass that has been made for professional use — plate glass, glass rods and glass pipes created in Japan, Germany and China. They lower and shape the glass, functioning the glass at a quite lower temperature, then wrap a very clear thread all around just about every piece and sew individuals items alongside one another.

Every piece in the Organ series, which the pair based mostly on their interpretation of body tissue, is manufactured of dozens of circular items. “We feel that clear, mild-permeable glass is a product that, when worn, visually blurs the boundary among the system and its ecosystem and loosely backlinks them with each other,” Ms. Jin mentioned.

The pieces, which are handmade by the Jins by themselves, are priced between 20,000 and 50,000 yen ($148-$370). The designers promote the items from their on the internet store, and they have stockists both in Japan and all-around the planet.

Nanyuki, Kenya

Crafting from her residence in Nanyuki, on the northwestern slopes of Mount Kenya, Ms. Dejak explained that her jewelry and equipment are about “capturing the spirit of Africa — her prosperity, her character, her society — and bringing many others into this encounter.”

Just one substance that the designer works by using are horns from Ankole cows, which she obtains from reclaimed horn suppliers in neighboring Uganda. Ms. Dejak then has regional artisans procedure the long, upward-curving horns, which the employees at her Nairobi atelier in transform style into earrings, pendants and bracelets. (She now employs 12 complete-time staff, much fewer than the 40 she used in advance of weathering financial problems.)

The designer notes that she also employs other environmentally friendly materials, this kind of as recycled fridges, doorknobs and car or truck engines, along with “recycled metals sourced at scrap marketplaces and bought per kilo.” Her brass jewellery retails for $40 to $510, although the luggage built of cowhide with Ankole horn fittings operate $80 to $910. Each the jewelry and the luggage are bought on the net and at suppliers about the world.

Ms. Dejak was born in Kano, Nigeria. “Ever because I was young, I admired my mom and grandmother’s fashion. They wore bold, vibrant adornments, and they inspired my appreciate for African, handmade components,” she explained. She graduated with a law diploma from Middlesex College in England, but then resolved to study typographical structure at the London Higher education of Communication.

As a self-taught designer, she begun the brand name under the name Magik Grace and rebranded in 2009 underneath her own identify. “My collections are heavily influenced by Kenyan tribes,” she said. “The Turkana, Samburu and the Masai system adornments and lifestyle have had a substantial affect.”

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