How studs have evolved from the Sex Pistols, to fashion, to luxury.
Studs, spikes and punk culture have been infiltrating fashion and costume jewellery for years, but now it is time for fine jewellery to find its edge, so say Juliet Hutton-Squire and Maia Adams of trend analysis agency Adorn Insight.
When the Sex Pistols were thrashing around in studs in the 1970s, they were dangerous. When East London trendies embraced studs five years ago, they were dangerously edgy. Now studs and spikes are dangerously fashionable, and the trend is shifting through to fine jewellery.
Historically studs were used in fashion to set an individual apart, to symbolise non-conformist beliefs, to shock, but now with high street stores like Zara and Topshop churning out studs morning, noon and night, on clothing, bags and shoes we have to admit that studs are a part of the mainstream.
Costume jewellery has been embracing the spiky trend for some time, but we are now beginning to notice a real pick up on this tough-luxe trend by fine jewellery houses.
More experimental jewellery designers such as Cabinet, Ros Millar and Bjørg might be expected to embrace the form, and indeed they have done, but more traditional jewellers such as Cartier and Kirsten Goss are also getting in on the act in their own way.
And the trend is spilling out into the entire design community, such as Lee Broom adding studs to its super-luxe leather chairs. And of course, fashion is wholly on board from the subtle – the delicate stud pattern on leather handbags at Rebecca Minkoff – to the extreme – extra long spikes on the toes of shoes from brands such as Christian Louboutin and Sam Edelman.
While fashion and costume jewellery can reproduce spikes and studs as literally and as harshly as it likes, for fine jewellers the challenge is to take such a strong symbolism of defiance and rebellion and harness its power for the use of creating something beautiful.
London-based jewellery brand Kirsten Goss is known for its confident and sophisticated jewels, but it has been its Tough Luxe collection that is a little bolder than most that really captured the imagination of its customers of late, by featuring spikes.
“I call it punk for grown-ups,” says founder and designer Kirsten Goss. “It’s irreverent but it’s been masterfully crafted with a high-end finish, keeping it in line with the brand’s style and the quality that our clients have come to expect. When it comes to deciphering trends each season, we work on what sits best with my design style, production techniques and what I find inspiring. Tough Luxe was a risk but I knew if we executed it with a chic edge our clients would get it. We couldn’t have hoped for a better response.”
Cartier has also achieved a coup in making the edgy endearing with its new collection Juste un Clous. The heritage jewellery house has honed in on a harsh image of the discarded nail, realising the nail in shiny gold and twisting it around a finger or a wrist to create a ring or bangle.
An interesting twist to this collection, and a point that is key to this trend, is that it has been created with a unisex clientele in mind. There are varying designs within the collection and the house suggests that the plain gold nails are perfect for men while the diamond-set nails are a sparkly option for women, although in the true spirit of punk the opposite could of course be true.
While spikes and studs can be thought of as harsh, provoking symbols, the shapes are actually very pure – conical, pyramid like, sleek, smooth – and has hugely satisfying dimensions that lend themselves well to jewellery.
Joomi Lim has used the purity of the conical shapes of spikes in his design and has set identical spikes along a link bracelet to create a perfect symmetry that is more akin to military neatness that the anarchy that the shapes have sprung from.
While some will chose to represent the solidness of spikes in their designs, the trend has also found itself within the naturalists of jewellery design.
Shaun Leane is famous for its ability to blend edgy and feminine together, and that is a skill that is requisite for portraying studs and spikes in a nature-infused setting. The house’s Blackthorn collection is a perfect reflection of this and has a dark palate that suits the moody edge to the trend.
Tomasz Donocik is another jewellery designer to blend spikes with nature. His Venus Fly Trap earrings are darkly menacing and seem sharp to the touch but the wider shape is long and flowing and organic.
Both of these designers offer great examples of bringing a hard edge into nature-inspired designs but also maintaining a soft edge despite the use of barbs and thorns.
Studs and spikes, as these jewellery designs show, are no longer just for punks or Lady Gaga. Like all edgy trends it has filtered down and altered and has ended up as a product serving a completely new market. In this case, this harsh element is softened with pretty stones, naturalistic elements or a beautifying of the core shape.
Studs and spikes are taking over the mainstream and we believe that in the world of fine jewellery it is not just a passing phase to be capitalised upon by cutting-edge designers but a style that will become a basic.
This trend evolved from an anarchistic, recession-struck time, and as we find ourselves back in similar times it is no surprise that this harsh trend is rearing its head again. The job this time round, as we find ourselves facing androgynous consumers driven by attitude, is how to keep it tough but make it beautifully luxe.
This article was taken from the September 2012 issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. To see a digital version of the issue click here.