Slideshow: Shape Shifters

Seven Brooklyn jewelry designers give basic forms the haute treatment.

by Christine Whitney

Photographs: Katja Rahlwes

The aesthetic: Tough metal meets delicate thread. Art Institute of Chicago alums Wade Jensen and Moire Conroy hand-knit their necklaces and bracelets, weaving in metal findings and semiprecious stones to yield offbeat pieces with mystical and tribal undertones. Current Inspiration: “A trip Wade made to Peru last May for knitting and weaving research. He met an old Incan woman outside of Lima who talked with him about a brightly colored woven belt inscribed with a story of Incan histories.” – Conroy Ideal client: “Vanessa Beecroft” Where to buy: Maryam Nassir Zadeh, La Garconne

Photographs: Katja Rahlwes

The Aesthetic: Art historian-turned-jewelry designer Randi Mates creates pieces that are by turns sculptural and architectural, part archeological excavation, part sci-fi. Mates works largely with metals and semiprecious stones; one knockout collection featured large Brazilian gems cut into geometric forms. Current Inspiration: “Marie Antoinette’s obsession with ribbons and the acts of levée and couchée, or the ritualized public dressings the French court under Louis XV was subjected to daily, wherein they were groomed and dressed in front of an audience in both the morning and the evening.” – Mates Ideal Client: “Marie Antoinette. Barring her, Tilda Swinton.” Where to buy: Aesa, Barneys New York

Photographs: Katja Rahlwes

The Aesthetic: “Anti-statement jewelry,” according to artist Hanna Sandin, who got into jewelry design almost by accident—her iconic triangle necklaces, which feature a number of angular brass or copper beads on a length of rope, were originally made as gifts for Sandin’s friends, and quickly became coveted items among New York’s downtown fashion set thanks to their striking simplicity. The current collection features larger, more streamlined pieces that still involve a healthy dose of geometric forms. Current Inspiration: “Giorgio Moroder presents Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The literal dissonance between 80s and 20s speaks to the way any designer finds inspiration—mining the old through a new lens. There’s also a strong connection between Art Deco and 80’s Art Deco revival that I have been going to for inspiration in dark, bleak moments.” Ideal client: “Understated, with a subtle but bold aesthetic sensibility.” Where to buy: Creatures of Comfort, Jumelle

Photographs: Katja Rahlwes

The Aesthetic: Caitlin Mociun started out designing women’s clothing with fabrics she printed and assembled in her own living room. 2009 marked her first foray into jewelry, characterized by delicate geometric motifs, turquoise-gold-diamond combos, and traditional cuts in unusual settings. Current inspiration: A blue-green sapphire purchased from Mociun’s stonecutter. Ideal clients: “Wedding couples seeking non-traditional rings; young, creative women.” – Mociun

Photographs: Katja Rahlwes

The Aesthetic: Founding designers Louis Decicco and Mari Ouchi create “wearable conceptual art” out of materials like metal and neoprene, rife with quirk and edgy sophistication. Current Inspiration: “Thinking about working out.” Ideal client: “YOU.” Sells at: Maryam Nassir Zadeh

Photographs: Katja Rahlwes

The Aesthetic: Santa Fe bohemia with a dash of vintage romance. Project Runway alum Jones pays homage to her Western heritage with Navajo-inflected patterns and such materials as horsehair and porcupine quills. Current Inspiration: Zambian psych-rock; the American Southwest Ideal Client: “Mae West, if she were alive. Alexa Chung and Kate Bosworth,” says Jones. Where to buy: Steven Alan

Photographs: Katja Rahlwes

The aesthetic: Mystical and brooding—think bronze, silver, and gold amulets cast from animal parts (the jawbone of a fish, bird vertebrae). Equal parts witchy and Museum of Natural History. The Inspiration: Kria’s current “Crustacean” collection draws on objects found on the shores of Northwestern Iceland and the U.S., as well as “concepts of nomadic ritualism,” according to Methúsalemsdóttir. Ideal client: “A curious one.” Where to buy: Eva New York, La Garconne, VPL