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The Right Angles | Architectural Jewelry

Tailoring is back in vogue, and sharp tailoring requires sharp and shapely accessories

Originally featured in Christie's Magazine November 4, 2016

Less is more. Never has the old adage rung more true. Because sometimes a single statement piece of jewelry can command more attention than a room full of accessories. Here is our selection of the best architectural and architecture-inspired jewelry for the season ahead.

Marmol Radziner Jewelry

Who better to create architectural jewelry than an architectural practice? Los Angeles- and San Francisco-based Marmol Radziner is an award-winning design/build firm that has created homes for the likes of designer Tom Ford and actor Demi Moore. In 2010, the company branched out into jewelry design. “Exploring new ways to create wearable jewelry made from architectural material is an exciting challenge for us,” says chief jewelry designer Robin Cottle. “Unlike the tradition of cast jewelry, we cut, torch, and hammer to create each ring, earring, and cuff.” Marmol Radziner Jewelry’s latest collection features each of those pieces, fashioned in white brass. The unusual metal, also known as nickel silver, is a copper alloy with nickel and zinc and has a silvery appearance that blends well with other cool-toned metals like stainless steel, platinum, silver, and white gold. Like previous MR collections, the handcrafted white brass offerings are produced in small runs by the firm’s in-house metal shop, which also creates the practice’s custom architectural hardware and furniture. 


Marmol Radziner Jewelry came into being when the architectural practice’s design principal Ron Radziner couldn’t find any men’s jewelry that was “minimal, yet solid and strong.” The collections, including White Brass, are handcrafted in the Marmol Radziner metal shop. Banner: Necklaces in Eleftheria Stamati's The Mechanics of Black collection each feature two geometric forms, creating a striking statement when viewed from either side. Banner photograph: Giorgos Vitsaropoulos

Zaha Hadid for Georg Jensen
Shortly before her sudden death in March 2016, architect Zaha Hadid collaborated with Danish design house Georg Jensen to produce a range of architectural jewelry, inspired by her own work, and by lamellae – thin, plate-like structures that are found both in nature and architecture like Hadid’s. The Lamellae Twisted Bangle, for example, incorporates a sweeping “S” line that regularly appeared in Hadid’s fluid building designs, while the Lamellae Double Ring takes its shape from the mountain-like forms and linear ribbons of light found in her 2014 Wangjing Soho towers in Beijing. “Working with Georg Jensen presented an opportunity to express our ideas in different scales and through different media,” said Hadid of the sterling silver pieces.

The defining piece of Zaha Hadid’s Lamellae collection for Georg Jensen, the Twisted Bangle vividly captures the fluidity that is central to her architecture. Engineered and refined using 3D technology and processes, its form is inherently elegant and modern. The collection also includes a range of sterling silver bangles and rings, as well as gold and black rhodium finishes.

Pico Design
Andrea Panico is the founder and creative director of Pico Design. An industrial designer, Panico says she loves the large scale of architecture and the small scale of jewelry: “My designs bring the two together.” Geometry is a key feature in some of Pico’s designs – such as the Cube drop earrings or Sphere cufflinks, both part of the Little Architecture collection. Another range pays homage to architecture that has inspired the designer, with pieces in the Guggenheim collection including a cuff influenced by the rotunda of New York’s famous museum, and earrings and a pendant that celebrate the brass fountain at its entrance. “I live in New York, and the museum is iconic, of course, but that rotunda design is just revolutionary. I think Frank Lloyd Wright changed the way people think of architecture in his design and I wanted to capture the movement and depth of the experience,” she says.

Jewelry pieces by Pico Design include geometric forms such as the Cube drop earings (left), and the Rotunda cuff (right) inspired by the exterior of New York’s Guggenheim museum.

Eleftheria Stamati
A Greek visual artist, Eleftheria Stamati says she designs and creates jewelry “thinking as a sculptor. I consider space a bulk of matter on which I interfere by removing pieces until I capture the ideal final shape that merges luminosity, harmony, and effortlessness.” Stamati refers to her creations as “wearable drafts,” and currently produces three collections: The Mechanics of Black, in which cubic or rectangular forms hang from both the front and back of the chain; Unlimited Collection, featuring flattened 3D shapes; and the temple-inspired Souvenir Collection. “Jewelry is, for me, the place where concept encounters human feelings,” says Stamati, of the creations she makes – alongside a team of skilled Greek craftsmen – in her studio in Athens.



Eleftheria Stamati’s designs are inspired by Euclidean geometry (named after an Ancient Greek mathematician) and in the case of her Souvenir Collection, seen here, the architecture of Ancient Greek temples. Photograph: Giorgos Vitsaropoulos

Ute Decker
Specializing in highly stylized jewelry using Fairtrade gold and recycled silver, German-born, London-based jeweler Ute Decker began creating pieces for herself 20 years ago, before turning professional in 2009. A background in political economics (and a job at the UN) convinced Decker that she only wanted to use recycled and Fairtrade materials in her pieces. (“The UK was the first country to launch Fairtrade gold, and I was one of the first people to work with it,” she notes).  Today, Decker’s wearable works of art have been exhibited around the globe and she has recently completed The Curling Crest of a Wave, a hand-sculpted, limited-edition pendant, the first edition of which is held at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. “It’s wonderful and exciting to have your work appreciated, and validated, by such an important institution,” she says.

The Curling Crest of a Wave, a hand-sculpted pendant in 18kt Fairtrade gold by Ute Decker,produced in a limited number of 12. The first edition is held in the Metalwork Collection of London's Victoria & Albert Museum.