CULT JEWELLERY

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MARKS OF A CULT

The hip culture behind some of the most popular jewellery

As a rule, a luxury product with a cult status has a high price tag, which makes it inaccessible for most people. But what really characterises cult jewellery?

Usually, the cult creations are synonymous with great style and interesting design. Cult jewellery are made up of a series of immaterial elements placed within a commercial context of a given company’s history: a heroic myth, for example, about the founder of the company, making the communication surrounding the jewellery iconic in itself. Often times, celebrities wear the jewellery by their own free will, and not just because they are brand ambassadors. The piece often has a classic design, loved by all. Sometimes, there’s a long waiting list to get the piece, and that its exclusivity is matched by a ‘cool factor’. All these being considered, it is apparent that the actual jewellery creation is only the very tip of the iceberg.

At this pinnacle of the branding process, we get something almost religious, hence the use of the ancient term ‘cult’. Originally, cult in its religious meaning meant ‘something to be worshipped’, something made divine through ceremonies and rituals. In a consumer context, cult indicates a secret knowledge about an object — something which radically separates a piece of jewellery from the rest. For this very reason, every consumer takes part in the ‘cult-ification’ of a piece of jewellery, which also makes the process pretty much unpredictable.

Finally, advertising campaigns are either supremely creative, or don’t exist at all. Because let’s face it, there is no reason to advertise something which sells by itself and that is known by all.

CARTIER’S LOVE BANGLE

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Created by Cartier New York-designer Aldo Cipullo in 1969, this bangle was supposedly inspired by the chastity belts of medieval times. Thanks to the small screwdriver, this unisex bangle can be fitted on the wrist of its wearer. “The symbolic interpretation of the bangle is much more relaxed today — that one is forever connected to the love of one’s life through this elegant piece of jewellery for everyday wear, which also holds a reference to the screws of Cartier’s wrist watches dating back to 1904”, says Pierre Raineo, Cartier’s Heritage Director. Numerous famous people had been seen with the Love Bangle — from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, to Nancy and Frank Sinatra, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Princess Diana, and Jennifer Aniston, among others.

BULGARI’S B. ZERO1 RING

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Launched in 1999, the ring was inspired by the company’s iconic flexible tubing gas hose, the Tubogas motif from the 1940s, and the double BULGARI logo, which was originally engraved on the watch given to the 100 best customers of the Rome boutique in 1975. So much publicity did this watch get, that it was launched in the regular assortment of Bulgari in 1977. Since the first B.zero1 ring in 1999, additional 36 B.zero1 designs have been made. With supermodel Bella Hadid headlining Bulgari’s B.zero1 campaign, the collection’s popularity is bound to further skyrocket.

CHANEL’S WISE MALTESE CROSS CUFF

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The first such cuffs were made of silver, matte white enamel and lacquer, and cabochon-cut gemstones in a Byzantine style, designed by Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, Duke of Verdura, for Gabrielle Chanel in 1930. On the famous profile portrait of the cigarette-smoking Coco Chanel, photographed by Man Ray in 1935, and the image of Coco Chanel seen sitting on the right shoulder of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes dancer Serge Lifar, photographed by Jean Moral in 1937, the French fashion designer is wearing two Maltese Cross cuffs, one on each wrist. This particular cuff is made of white Plexiglas set with a golden metal and enamel cross from the 2013-2014 Winter collection. 

TIFFANY & CO.’S JEAN SCHLUMBERGER BANGLES

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Since First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore so many of Jean Schlumberger’s colourful enamel bangles, the fashion press dubbed them “The Jackie Bracelets” — something that only made them more popular. Anything touched by Mrs Kennedy — whether literally or figuratively — became cult, and ladies of the East Coast society circles clamoured to wear them. To this day, Jean Schlumberger’s designs are still collectors’ items for high society ladies. His jewellery style was wild, flamboyant, and fantastic, with motifs such as fruits and flowers, circus clowns, and a multitude of different animals.

JAR’S TULIP BROOCH

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‘JAR’ stands for Joel Arthur Rosenthal, a self-taught jewellery designer born in 1943 in Bronx, New York. In the 1960s, JAR moved to Paris, where he held a series of jobs, most importantly that of an embroiderer. In 1977, he showed his first pieces of jewellery set with corals and moonstones. Soon, he was able to open his own boutique on Place Vendôme number 7, a boutique that has neither a sign nor windows. JAR makes about 70 to 80 piece of jewellery a year, and this Tulip brooch displays two of his most recognisable styles — organic shapes pavé-set with stones arranged in a naturalistic graduation of hues, and an exceptional old-cut diamond — in this instance a 7.51ct D IF Type IIA diamond.

OTTO JAKOB’S ZAYIL EARRINGS

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Otto Jakob is a German goldsmith, who, in addition to jewellery, also produces belt buckles, boxes, and objects made of precious materials. There is something almost raw about Otto Jakob’s jewellery. These Zayil earrings made of partially oxidised gold and white gold set with a total of 687 colourless, brown and 1.57ct light-brown diamonds have an organic feel to them. His creations are mostly in demand with European and American art collectors.