PARIS — Some fine jewelry designers are finding inspiration beyond the typical flora and fauna, turning to tougher stuff from guns and music to erotic toys.
After all, if fashion can take inspiration from the street, why shouldn’t jewelry?
“A trend like porno chic opened a Pandora’s box,” said Yann Cohen, managing director of Osselet, a Paris house that is launching its first collection of fine jewelry this fall after manufacturing for luxury houses for years.
“It showed that you sometimes need to be provocative to get the consumer’s attention,” he said, referring to a gold, diamond-encrusted, gun-shaped pendant the firm has introduced. “Nothing is sacred. Luxury is no longer about reverence.”
Betony Vernon, an American jewelry designer based in Milan who specializes in erotic fine jewelry, such as gold-handled whips or so-called stimulation rings in platinum and pearls, said women are more liberated and no longer shy from former taboos.
“The sexual revolution has made women ready to explore their bodies,” she said. “Why not do it with a dash of luxury and indulgence?”
Even hip-hop culture, which has appropriated luxury on its terms, is now getting serious jewelry attention. Elena Meyer, for example, a Russian based in Florence, makes miniature gold LPs, headphones and boom boxes that are encrusted with diamonds, rubies and sapphires.
“We have always had jewelry for special occasions,” she said. “I wanted to make jewelry for more normal ones.”
Even venerable Cartier has dipped into the world of transgression. This fall, the Paris firm introduced handcuff-style rings and bracelets in its Menotte collection, which made its debut at the Jeffrey stores in New York and Atlanta last month.
But the house’s artistic director, Giampiero Bodino, doubts the longevity of fine jewelry’s racy moment.
“When a woman buys fine jewelry, she doesn’t want to buy something that will seem obsolete in six months,” Bodino said. “It can be sexy, but it has to transcend the seasonal. Jewelry needs to go beyond the trend.”
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