Jewellery goes stormcore
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Everyone’s entitled to a mood once in a while, and it’s jewellery’s turn. Heavy skies, downpours and lightning motifs are creating a charged atmosphere in accessories. But for every dark cloud in onyx or titanium, there’s another with a silver (or gold) lining, fluffy pearl accents or trails of winking diamond raindrops – the calm after the storm.
Anissa Kermiche’s Wuthering Heights earrings, clusters of freshwater pearls with chain drops, are window-peltingly striking, while Maria Tash has little flashes of inspiration in the form of snappy lightning studs. And LA-based “romantic surrealist” Rachel Quinn’s pearl-and-gemstone pendants, bracelets and earrings are themed around Rainy, Stormy or Cloudy Days.
“I grew up in the Deep South where the storms are biblical,” she says. “But rain is even more exciting when you live in sunny LA. Clouds make me want to rush outside.”
It’s not the first time jewellers have taken inspiration from above. Paloma Picasso’s graphic, eighties Lightning Bolt cuffs for Tiffany have become a classic; Boodles’ cascading Raindance designs have been going strong for two decades; and Chopard has a signature line in drifting clouds, part of its Happy Dreams concept, complete with tumbling raindrops.
More recently, a more all-encompassing meteorological theme has been brewing – not least on Place Vendôme, with the poetic pieces in the Ciels de Chaumet suite, and in Boucheron’s futuristic but ethereal Contemplation collection, with its floating Nuage en Apesanteur necklace of 4,018 tiny diamonds mimicking the millions of droplets in a cloud.
“There’s definitely something in the symbolism of rain clouds coming and going that appeals to people at the moment,” says independent Edinburgh-based jeweller Grainne Morton, whose whimsical “heirloom jewels” are all handmade from eclectic combinations of gems, antique and found fragments – many of which are irregular or one-offs.
A chance encounter with some cloud-shaped art deco glass fragments led to a series of dangling raincloud pieces, using different elements to evoke day or night – and she can’t make them fast enough. “I think it’s about the illustrative, fairytale-like appearance of clouds, too,” she says. “It harks back to childhood in a way that’s comforting somehow.”
For Rachel Quinn, there was comfort in creativity itself, as she navigated a turbulent emotional journey through a broken engagement and the sudden loss of her father, by making stormy-sky jewels.
“I threw myself into my work and let the grief take me where it wanted to go,” she says. Her signature hearts became pin cushions, or with gem drops of blood, and “strands of broken pearls looked like stormy clouds – it was all I could see”.
The resulting pieces crackle with energy – and authenticity. Now that the darkest days are past, she’s “feeling a need for colour”, and a mother-of-pearl, sapphire and rainbow collection, Brighter Days, lies ahead.