Fine-jewelry trends are far more closely linked to economic climates than you might suspect. In recent years, the popularity of chunky, gold-heavy designs has continued to soar despite the turbulent roller coaster of recession and inflation, with gold retaining its reputation as a steady investment and becoming a status symbol, too. Film stars and music moguls have adopted gold chains as an indicator of their success; wealth symbols just as valid as their iceberg-sized jewels. Now, though, as classic gold chains have become as ubiquitous as diamond solitaires, designers are going one step further with their chain creations, revamping and rejuvenating traditional chains with souped-up metalwork, talismanic charms and rainbow hues.
Jennifer Koche, founder of New York-based brand Storrow, expertly curates her collections of eclectic chains bedecked with charms so that each piece bears myriad symbols and amulets. Koche was inspired by chains used during the Victorian era, including paper- and book-link designs, and sought to create a modern version. Each link is meticulously considered to ensure that every charm sits prettily across the neck without overlap, including her bee and north star motifs. Both symbols were popular Victorian emblems, with Koche adopting the bee for its connotations of loyalty and hard work. “The north star references a guiding light, direction and purpose,” she explains. “In the [challenging] Victorian period, people sought answers in astrology, which helped to bring them comfort and reassurance.”
In a similar vein, Marie Lichtenberg, a former fashion editor at French Elle, launched her eponymous brand in 2019 after being inspired by the keepsake lockets of her Creole heritage. Today, the brand’s signature locket chains continue to channel the powerful motifs and mementos of her childhood. “This style of forçat necklace was crafted by slaves when they were freed,” explains Lichtenberg. “They kept the symbolism of the thick gold chain, then added little French clasps that their masters had brought with them. It symbolized a very important mix within Creole culture and is such a strong emblem of freedom.”
Lichtenberg used this locket silhouette as a starting point for her mystical and magical designs, crafting her first piece when her daughter was born. “I wanted to give her something from me, so I took the clasp as my inspiration and created one that said, ‘To the Moon and Back’ – it was like reaching into my own memories to create something for her.” Today, Lichtenberg has a wide offering of potent pieces that channel love, joy and protection, each offering an imaginative embellishment on colorful cords or elegant gold chains.
Even Lauren Rubinski, the master of classic chains with a contemporary twist, and whose oversized yet featherlight designs often adorn the necks of supermodels and celebrities alike, has pushed the limits of chain design this season. From bi-color links and double-layer styles to pieces adorned with multicolored enamel, Rubinski’s creations have been amped up a notch to showcase intricate triple hoops and complex plaited loops. Ideal for stacking and layering, be sure to combine these characterful designs with reckless abandon for an immediate injection of attitude.