Jewellery Based mostly on Childhood Toys


When the French jewellery designer Marie Lichtenberg was rising up in Paris within the Nineties, she beloved taking part in with the Magic 8 Ball. The toy, when shaken, acts as a sort of fortuneteller, revealing solutions to questions in a small window: “Don’t rely on it.” “It’s sure.” “Ask once more later.”

“My dad and mom traveled quite a bit,” Ms. Lichtenberg mentioned on a telephone name from her house in Paris. “Every time they went to the U.S., they introduced again some goodies for me and my siblings, and the Magic 8 Ball was one in every of them.

“I nonetheless have this ball, and my daughter and little boy are taking part in with it,” she added.

Final summer season, Ms. Lichtenberg was sitting on her sofa, enthusiastic about what to design subsequent, when she seen the ball on her espresso desk. “I do know what we’ve got to do,” she remembered pondering. “Now we have to make the 8 Ball in gold and diamonds!”

In June, on the Couture jewellery present in Las Vegas, the designer offered an 18-karat gold, diamond and enamel model of the $10 plastic toy, however with a worth of $21,560. The pendant — which replicates the unique 8 Ball’s fortunetelling performance and was crafted in Italy with the blessing of Mattel, the toy’s producer — earned the present’s Greatest in Progressive award. (The judges applauded “its skill to spark pleasure.”)

When Ms. Lichtenberg determined to remake the Magic 8 Ball, she didn’t even know that Mattel, the maker of Barbie, owned the rights. As a substitute, she was working on the identical intuition that seems to be motivating some jewelers: mainly, the will to create designs that conjure the playfulness of their childhoods.

In consequence, a tide of superb jewels impressed by things like unicorns and the Rubik’s Dice are coming to market.

Camille Zarsky, founding father of the Seven, a designer jewellery boutique in Manhattan’s West Village, interpreted the development as proof of a collective need for “lighthearted distractions.”

“Persons are in search of issues which are much less severe and extra whimsical,” Ms. Zarsky mentioned in a telephone interview from Sag Harbor, N.Y., the place the Seven had simply opened a location, its second.

In 2020, throughout a pandemic lockdown, Claire Choisne, the artistic director of the Paris-based jeweler Boucheron, got here to an identical conclusion.

“Two days earlier than our journey with my group in Africa, we needed to cancel it,” Ms. Choisne wrote in an e mail. “Everybody was unhappy! We went on Pinterest and spent hours in search of inspiration. By this course of, I discovered footage of Memphis Design that jogged my memory of a contented time throughout my childhood within the ’80s.”

She was referring to the brilliant colours, geometric shapes and daring patterns of the Memphis Design motion, a mode related to a gaggle of Italian architects and designers who dominated the last decade with their Pop Artwork-inspired sensibilities.

The end result was Boucheron’s 30-piece Extra is Extra assortment, launched in July throughout Couture Week in Paris, broadly praised on social media for its ingenuity and humor. Among the many line’s many speaking items was the Remedy Me necklace, basically, a deconstructed Rubik’s Dice studded with valuable stones.

“Just like the cubes of the unique puzzle, each aspect of the piece has a unique coloration,” Ms. Choisne wrote. “The craftsmen set grey spinels and pink sapphires onto little white gold plates earlier than inserting each into an aluminum dice. Varied varieties of mother-of-pearl have been used: white, pink and grey.”

Ms. Choisne echoed many superb jewelers when she cited the pursuit of happiness because the motivating consider her design course of.

“At the moment, essentially the most valuable factor for me was pleasure,” she wrote. “I couldn’t take any extra constraints, I felt like a insurgent, and I needed my group and I to design no matter made us comfortable, expressing no matter we wished to precise. I wanted colours, playfulness.”

Emily P. Wheeler, a superb jewellery designer based mostly in Los Angeles, embraced the identical mind-set. In Could, she launched a Mom’s Day capsule assortment of Mommy and Me items created in collaboration with Maria Dueñas Jacobs, founding father of the kids’s jewellery model Tremendous Smalls.

In Ms. Wheeler’s gem-studded take, she remained trustworthy to the outsized scale of Tremendous Smalls’s rainbow, glittery designs, however opted for valuable supplies. For instance, Ms. Wheeler reinterpreted a $36 Tremendous Smalls unicorn pendant made in base metals with imitation stones right into a white agate design, with an 18-karat gold mane set with sapphires and rubies, on a necklace of white freshwater pearls.

“I’ve at all times felt there was one thing particularly glamorous about having easy model and never taking your self too critically,” Ms. Wheeler mentioned.

She actually lives by that credo. In 2019, lengthy earlier than “Barbie” turned a blockbuster movie, Ms. Wheeler had a sizzling pink vinyl wrap positioned on her Land Rover Defender. “It appeared like an enormous toy automotive,” she mentioned. “It was so humorous and so fabulous.”

Ms. Wheeler framed her automotive alternative for instance of how silliness can really feel like an antidote to present occasions. “There’s much more seriousness that hangs over each resolution we make at the moment,” she mentioned. “Whether or not to procreate, the place to stay. Is it moral? Is that this place going to be underwater in 20 years?”

However utilizing pink vehicles — or jewellery — to lighten the temper is hardly a brand new phenomenon.

In 2012, Alison Chemla, artistic director and designer of Alison Lou, based her New York-based superb jewellery model with a group of seven emoji-inspired designs that celebrated “a brand new manner of speaking,” Ms. Chemla mentioned.

4 years later, the toy firm Hasbro proposed that she flip a trio of its most traditional merchandise — the Tornado and Monopoly video games and Mr. Potato Head — into jewellery.

“As a result of I construct out faces, Mr. Potato Head actually resonated with me,” Ms. Chemla mentioned. “I replicated the Tornado board, with the spinning wheel, as a pendant.”

Tatiana Van Lancker, a London-based inside and product designer, drew on equally nostalgic themes in 2019 when she launched a line of gold and coloured stone robotic jewels based mostly on an articulated pendant that her mom wore when Ms. Van Lancker was rising up in Sydney, Australia.

Designed to evoke the retro-futuristic vibe of Rosey the Robotic, the maid on the Nineteen Sixties animated sitcom “The Jetsons,” Ms. Van Lancker’s line of robotic items, known as Van, caught on when she wore a prototype to a celebration in London and sparked the curiosity of a trend editor.

“They’re completely meant to be your pleasant bot,” Ms. Van Lancker mentioned on a name from her house in Rome, the place she and her husband relocated in 2022 for his work, placing her even nearer to her workshop in Tuscany.

“My shoppers by no means take them off,” she added. “And since they’ve received this tactile aspect of being articulated, it turns into soothing. It appears like your little pal round your neck.”

Bella Neyman, the co-founder of NYC Jewellery Week and a frequent lecturer on jewellery historical past, mentioned that along with evoking a extra carefree time, toy-inspired jewels additionally served to “elevate the on a regular basis by dressing it up in valuable stones and metals.”

She cited the modern studio jewelers Emiko Oye, Margaux Lange and Lisa Walker as pioneers within the class.

“Margaux was utilizing Barbies in her designs manner earlier than the film was a factor,” Ms. Neyman mentioned on a current name. “Emiko has been sourcing classic Legos. It’s additionally about upcycling and taking these items which are mass market and elevating them.”

In describing the work of Ms. Walker — “Her factor is about subversion, and surrealism” — Ms. Neyman talked about Elsa Schiaparelli, the Twentieth-century Italian designer whose collaborations yielded fantastical jewels just like the Aspirin necklace of blue porcelain beads that appeared just like the ache relievers, created with the novelist Elsa Triolet; and Ruby Lips, a brooch of a mouth with pearl tooth and lips of rubies, created with Salvador Dalí.

Ms. Zarsky of the Seven additionally alluded to the affect Schiaparelli nonetheless had on jewellery. “Folks need jewellery to be extra than simply diamonds and gold,” she mentioned. “It’s concerning the storytelling, the escapism.”

Ms. Lichtenberg mentioned there was one factor designers on this sector should keep in mind: “The extra unserious you get, the extra it’s a must to be tremendous severe about your manufacturing. The craftsmanship must be to die for. In any other case, it’s solely a toy.”


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