Jeweler Erickson Beamon takes its chandelier earrings to new heights.
The latest pieces from jewelry maker Erickson Beamon don’t come in a little velvet box. Instead, they arrive in a piano crate courtesy of the Steinway piano movers. That’s because they weigh about 40 pounds, have a circumference measuring several feet and are made to dangle from a ceiling, not an earlobe.
“We use the same techniques that we do when we make the jewelry,” says the company’s co-founder, Karen Erickson, pointing to the glass pearls adorning one of the lights, or the 24-karat gold plate on another. “But instead of making a necklace or a belt, we are making a chandelier.”
Erickson, along with her collaborator, Vicki Beamon, has long created custom work for designers Anna Sui, Matthew Williamson and Dries Van Noten, as well as a long list of stylists. It was this spirit of collaboration that led them, by chance, to the field of lighting design.
In 2003, Barneys New York creative director Simon Doonan was putting together a window display retrospective to celebrate Erickson Beamon’s 20 years in business. He asked the duo to create an actual chandelier to hang from a giant ear in homage to their famous chandelier earrings, a term they are credited with coining.
Erickson didn’t think much about the display until one of her jewelry clients in Japan demanded she fashion some for her highly designed boutique Loveless, as well.
“I blew them off completely,” says Erickson. But six months later they were back, and talked her into making six chandeliers as permanent fixtures.
It’s no wonder she was hesitant: The chandeliers are truly couture pieces made entirely by hand at Erickson’s Manhattan studio and her London headquarters. For this reason, they are created only on commission and retail prices begin at $40,000.
The pieces are drawing fans like Amy Sacco, who is negotiating with the company to have one made for her upcoming Las Vegas restaurant. “I am in love with them,” Sacco says. “They are so special and sexy and rock ’n’ roll.”
That’s exactly the way to describe their Goth Girls chandelier, which incorporates the black leather rosettes, metal spikes and chains of the jewelry collection of the same name. There’s also a one-of-a-kind Talking Heads model that is a pink-beaded riff on the cameo-studded collection Erickson Beamon first produced for Anna Sui.
But the very thing that makes the chandeliers so difficult and time-consuming—mainly their size—is what also makes them appealing to design. “You are limited in what you can do in an earring because someone has got to wear it. It has got to be comfortable,” explains Erickson. “So with this, you can go wild.”