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Weird and wonderful

Creativity knows no bounds in the world of jewellery design. Deborah Jane Goon examines these wacky, ingenious and sometimes dubious innovations from around the globe.
Gone are the days of mainstream jewellery and conservative designs. These days, jewellers and creative types are keeping up with the fashion-conscious by evolving the trade. There is an increasing urge to stand out among the crowd and just like in fashion, this often results in the experimentation of materials and innovative techniques. The result is an evolution of sorts, with a new standard of fashion accessories that are quirky, edgy, eclectic and sometimes just plain wacky.

Celebrity gems
US First Lady Michelle Obama redefined the way we view wood when she commissioned American jeweller Kara Ross to make custom pieces of jewellery for her and visiting heads of state. Even though the gesture itself is not uncustomary, it is more interesting to note that the wood sent to Ross for the custom pieces came directly from the White House lawn.

Each piece of jewellery was inscribed with, “Designed exclusively for Michelle Obama by Kara Ross”.

Ross was thrilled to be given the chance to show her creative ingenuity and has since been put on the world stage for her efforts.

“How great is it to be giving a visiting head of state a gift by an American artist which literally originates from the White House,” said Ross.

US pop star Miley Cirus is another celebrity that caught our attention while showing off a diamond necklace shaped like a moustache on a US chat show. Cirus openly admits to collecting “all kinds of things with moustaches - including pins, mugs and people.”

American Demitasse Jewelry claims to stock the quirky pendant designed by Rachael White that aims to deliver moustache humour and eccentricity, while making reference to iconic people such as artist Salvador Dali.

“The Demistache is not about an alternative identity or some clandestine society, it’s about a laugh. It’s about a chuckle in a time where laughter is crucial,” designer Rachael White says.

Innovative designs
America has long been known to be a leader in the creative field but who would have thought this would involve jewellery good enough to chew on!

American mother of two, Lynne Churchill has created the perfect solution for teething babies by creating pendants and bangles for mothers to wear that are safe for babies to gnaw on. No more having to worry about little John chewing on your designer pieces. The innovative jewellery looks real but is actually made from fake gemstones using the same material as many teething toys.

Turntables, grenades and gas masks are not, as you may think, the latest devices of a DJ cum terrorist. Rather they are quirky pieces that have rocked their way into the jewellery scene as part of a jewellery collaboration between US guitar company Fender and ‘rock n roll’ jewellery manufacturer King Baby Studios. The gas masks “represent the anti-establishment roots of the underground rock scene” according to Music Radar.

Fender said, “The [collaboration] has resulted in a cool collection that allows the inner rock star in all people to express their individual lifestyle and passion for all things music.”

And as if that wasn’t enough to make a statement, a young New Yorker has launched a collection of jewellery using the amputated limbs and other body parts of Barbie dolls.

According to the artist Margaux Lange – the inspiration comes from her own experience with womanhood. She wants to incite emotions of distress to portray how she rejects but embraced prescriptive roles and stereotypes when she was much  younger.

Over in West Yorkshire in England, two local women have designed UV-detecting jewellery that signals wearers when the rays are dangerously strong by changing colour in the sun. Designed by Kerry Dean and Angela Thompson, the functional UV-detecting pieces could be the next best thing to sunscreen and a hat.

One of the designers, Angela Thomson confirmed that the jewellery was not designed as a novelty product and involved a serious health warning.

“Our jewellery aims to raise awareness to skin cancer and when the colour changes this is a reminder to protect your skin whilst out in the sun,” says Thomson. She added that the jewellery was also a great way to help educate younger children about the importance of sun-safety.

Unusual materials
Success smells sweet – and somewhat fruity. And for Jamaican jewellery distributor Nicole Masters, this manifests in a line of organic fruit jewellery. Borrowing inspiration from Mother Earth, Masters presents jewellery made from orange peel, tagua, acai berry, coconut shell, coffee beans, cantelope and sunflower seeds. She recommends wearers to keep their jewellery in a sachet bag to help preserve the natural scent. Hungry wearers just need to remember that the fruits won’t taste as good as they smell, as they are expertly polished and in some cases, painted.

Who would have thought honey could be used in jewellery? In an effort to support dwindling honeybee populations however, Alexander & Lehnert Jewelers in North Carolina have come up with a unique piece that is sweet as!

Introducing the ‘New Amber’ amulet containing 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey – an amount that has been measured to correspond with the life’s work of one bee.

The amulet looks much like traditional amber jewellery and is set in glass and sterling silver. Proceeds from sales of the amulet—which retails at $150 a piece—will go directly to fund a major new outreach effort known as the Buzz for the Bees campaign.

From bees to cicadas. 60-year-old twins from South Carolina have capitalised on the recent cicada invasion that occurs once every 13 years by creating jewellery from cicada wings. Susan Smith told MailOnline that she and her twin have been using the wings of the locust-like insects to make earrings. But this money-making venture will definitely be shortlived since the bugs are not due to return till 2024.

Over in Europe, German designer and silversmith Heidi Abrahamson has been inspired by her friend to create a cat-alogue of hairball jewellery. “I never expected to be Googled with ‘hairball’ after my name,” Abrahamson told MSNBC.

Solving the age-old problem most cat lovers have, Abrahamson has used cats’ hair to craft beads that are made into unique jewellery pieces. After all, “if you’re going to wear cat hair, why not be fashionable about it.” Custom designed pieces are even available for cat lovers who want a personalised piece. Now that’s what we call inventive!

Back in Australia, most people are keen on staying eco-friendly and do their part to recycle and reuse. Three Aussie women however have taken this notion one step further by creating a range of jewellery from recycled computer parts and other bits and pieces from op shops. The idea came after one of them – Kate Buxton – wore a hard drive necklace and received compliments. The trio have used nearly every part of the computer in their jewellery.

From eco-warriors to pop stars and inventive jewellers, it’s obvious that the jewellery trade is seeing some pretty big changes. While some of these pieces may not even make it big, it’s nice to know that the industry is evolving, even if that means embracing alternative culture and sometimes bizarre material usage. At the end of the day, whatever appeals to customers emotions and lifestyle will make the sale.









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Friday, 13 December, 2019 02:09am
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