HIGH JEWELLERY: FROM HISTORY TO HOMER

HIGH JEWELLERY: FROM HISTORY TO HOMER

by Stella Hughes
8 min
© Tyrone Lebon

Let’s face it – jewellery is an integral part of drip. Whilst many of us revolve around a few pieces of signature jewellery, the world of high jewellery is a different ballgame entirely. Think rare and elusive gemstones, thousands of stones and hours’ work in one piece, and a price tag that would make the richest among us wince. Although bling has been synonymous with celebrities since, well, forever (think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to the ongoing relationship between Hip Hop and high-ticket pieces), high jewellery seems to be experiencing something of a renaissance in recent months.

For example, Drake was recently spotted courtside wearing the (literal) jewel in the crown of Homer, Frank Ocean’s apparel and lifestyle brand. The ‘Sphere Legs High Jewelry Necklace’ costs US $1.9 million, a flex that Drizzy made sure we knew about. Crafted from 18ct white gold, the piece features a chain made from orbs joined by pavé links, with each orb boasting a 0.33-inch brilliant-cut white diamond with an average weight of 2.326 carats. 

The pendant features another four orb branches with 0.33-inch diamonds, plus a final brilliant-cut stone in the centre, for a total weight of 127.5 carats. Sounds impressive, right? Consider the context: the average engagement ring diamond is somewhere between 1.08 and 1.2 carats, and this chain has dozens of orbs each containing those big 2.326 carat diamonds. Crazy. This is all to say that Drake officially has the most expensive chain on the planet, with his Homer piece eclipsing the previous record holder, Rick Ross. With sales like these, it’s no wonder Frank isn’t in that much of a rush to make more music yet.

But perhaps we owe high-jewellery as we know it to a few key, influential players. Reigning kings of the jewellery world for celebrities and fine-jewellery fans alike are Jacob & co – changing the face of the scene by icing out all the major figures in Hip Hop and beyond. Aside from being mentioned in countless tracks like Ye’s Touch the Sky, for one, owning a Jacob & Co piece has become synonymous with ‘making it’ in this pocket of the music world.

Jacob’s secret? Building and maintaining personal relationships with his clients, as well as having access to unique, rare gemstones and the highest quality diamonds, duh. People call on Jacob, who can be found in his NYC boutique by appointment, for one-of-a-kind pieces that push the boundaries of what jewellery should, and could, be. Take Drake’s watch-turned-roulette table. How about Rihanna’s jewels of choice at the Met, or Biggie’s endless diamond drip? All the work of Jacob.

© COURTESY OF JACOB & CO.

The brand’s legacy has recently been recognised in a link up with Highsnobiety, who have released a collection with the iconic Jeweller that celebrates his life and work. Born in Soviet Uzbekistan, ‘Jacob the Jeweler’ built his empire in NYC, with one of his first clients being Biggie Smalls. As with all the worst-kept secrets in life, news about his jewel-dropping talent spread by word of mouth, and the Jeweller counts most of today’s style mavericks as part of his clientele.

© COURTESY OF JACOB & CO.

Take Virgil Abloh, for one. A visionary in whichever creative field he found himself in at the current time, Abloh collabed with Jacob & Co for a jewellery collection entitled “Office Supplies” in 2019. The drop saw him reminisce on childhood nostalgia, with paper clips given the diamond treatment, and reworked into a series of earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Creating a fully formed collection, these iterations came in yellow, white or rose-gold, and were described by V as derived from his “obsession with adornment and making necklaces out of paperclips in school”.

Here, the creative took Jacob & Co’s iconic heritage and expertise, whilst updating it for the 21st century and his current mindset – calling it a “modernist take on fine jewellery”. Abloh’s interest and creativity extended to his personal style, too. Calling on @izzyjeweler to craft a custom Lumiere character pendant, this piece took thousands of stones and was worn by Abloh to the Met Gala. 

Tyler, the Creator is also no stranger to high jewellery. Having shaped and disrupted fashion and streetwear spaces since he burst onto the scene with Odd Future, Tyler has built up quite the collection – showcasing it in its entirety to XXL mag back in 2021. Lucky for us, the spread gave us a glimpse of the creative’s jewellery taste: much of which revolves around going big or going home. Seemingly endless diamond-cartoon chains (some depicting the Cherry Bomb logo) sit amongst brooches and pendants depicting his IGOR era. Pink sapphires, yellow canary diamonds and rubies set on an ‘Italian link’ chain prove he isn’t coming to play with his jewels.

Elsewhere, we’ve seen the musician in nostalgic heart-shaped emerald gemstones which sit atop silver and diamond ring bands, grillz of every colour and stone, and chains that boast over 25,000 individual stones. Sheesh. Whilst his style has evolved from pioneering the streetwear scene with OFWGKTA to bringing in loafers, sweater vests and button ups – Tyler’s fascination with jewellery makes one thing clear: trends are temporary, but drip is forever.

© @feliciathegoat

Like Jacob, another NYC king of the jewellery scene is Gabby. The Godfather of Grillz, Gabby Pinhasov (of Gabby Elan), has been making custom bejewelled grillz in New York for celebrities since the 90s. Fitting out everyone from Wu Tang Clan to Pharrell and Heidi Klum, he’s the best in the business. His custom grillz for Tyler and A$AP Rocky supplied the drip to Gucci’s 2020 campaign. Check out our full  interview with Elan here.

Speaking of musicians, one of the more touching moments in jeen-yuhs revolved around Ye showing his mother, Donda, his new chain. The gold chain angel pendant was the subject of Donda’s fascination, teasing and eventual appreciation – joking with Ye that he was buying the piece before a new house. However, she came round to it – saying “you need an angel to watch over you. So it’s all good”. This piece would go on to form the basis of the musician’s G.O.O.D Music label logo – cementing it in the bejewelled hall of high jewellery fame.

© Courtesy of Neflix

Another recent piece we’ve spotted is less high, still wild. Worn on A$AP Rocky – soon to be dad, certified Fashion Killa, and… tamagotchi lover? Wearing the nostalgic device on a specially-made beaded chain from etsy artist Monigotchi, A$AP performed and took us back to our youth. The bead featured pearls, clear resin letter cubes, smiley beads alongside an assortment of others. Priced from $65, we can back it. 

From heritage houses to an ongoing culture, high jewellery is as ingrained in the creative worlds as high fashion: with the pioneers of the scene consistently challenging perceptions, breaking boundaries and elevating what ‘jewellery’ can be.

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