The Adventurine Posts Pharrell: Carbon, Pressure & Time

Pharrell Carbon, Pressure & Time (Rizzoli); Pharrell’s Jacob & Co. 24 Stone Necklace composed of white and fancy vivid yellow diamonds, emeralds and blue sapphires (2018). Photo by Erik Ian (Book Cover) and Michael Morales

Books & Exhibitions

Pharrell: Carbon, Pressure & Time

The Rizzoli book about jewels is unlike any other

by Marion Fasel

September 20, 2023—Among all the jewelry books being released this fall, I was particularly eager to see Pharrell: Carbon, Pressure & Time: A Book of Jewels published by Rizzoli. The multiplatinum recording artist and CFDA Fashion Icon Award winner, who recently made his spectacular debut as Men’s Creative Director of Louis Vuitton, obviously wasn’t going to do a jewelry book like anyone else. Plus, I’ve been tracking Pharrell’s jaw-dropping jewelry collection for years and I wanted more detail.

I knew the rapper commissioned pieces back in the day from Jacob Arabo of Jacob & Co, who is colloquially known as “Jacob the Jeweler.” I got schooled on the impact they made with fancy colored diamonds in Vikki Tobak’s landmark publication Ice Cold and I saw the jewels and objects at the Joopiter auction previews.

Photo of Pharrell by Driely S. Carter

I couldn’t help but notice the giant gems in Pharrell’s Lorraine Schwartz rings. I was even in the audience when Pharrell gave Lorraine an award once years ago. I can’t remember what award it was, but I vividly recall his personal presentation. Pharrell talked about enjoying Shabbat dinners at chez Schwartz and learning about jewelry.

And of course, I have noticed his more recent collabs with Tiffany & Co. including his diamond studded sunglasses and “God Is” necklace.

So, I was relatively aware of Pharrell’s treasures. I wanted to know his thoughts on jewelry and how he was going to present the pieces in a coffee table book.

Pharrell Williams in 2007 holding the Jacob & Co designed Baby Milo x KAWS pendant set with white and fancy colored diamonds and rubies and wearing a 23.85-carat D-flawless diamond Lorraine Schwartz ring. Photo by P.M. Ken

The first thing that grabbed me about the publication was the title Carbon, Pressure & Time. I thought it referred to diamonds which are composed of carbon and formed in the earth under great pressure over a long period of time. I was wrong. And I should have known better because Pharrell often plays around with double entendres.

Pharrell explains to Tyler the Creator in the publication: “Carbon, Pressure & Time is the title of the book. Carbon, ‘cuz we black, and pressure, cuz we black, and we know the time it takes.”

Jacob & Co. white, natural light pink, yellow, treated blue, orange, black, cognac and green diamond and ruby N.E.R.D pendant and chain commissioned by Pharrell in 2005 and considered one of the most important pieces in the history of hip hop jewelry. The gems in the design weigh almost 158-carats.

The main chapters in Carbon, Pressure and Time are conversations between Pharrell and jewelry experts Jacob Arabo, Lorraine Schwartz and Alexandre Arnault as well as YOON & VERBAL. An afterword is handled by Pharrell’s long-time fashion collaborator Nigo. Each one details why they love jewelry and why its special among other things.

Pharrell often talks about being a perpetual student. His inquisitiveness is proven throughout the book.

Pharrell wearing his Lorraine Schwartz emerald ring among other accessories. Photo by Robert Jaso

In one exchange Pharrell asks Tiffany Executive Vice President of Product & Communications, Alexandre Arnault, to share his approach because he says, “I think it’s important that aspiring young jewelers read this as much as I want people who love jewelry to read this. What did you see at Tiffany and why did you do the things that you did there?”

Alexandre, who has been friends with Pharrell since he was a teenager, dives deeply into his answer which centers on the statement, “I think the connection and the emotion people feel with jewelry is something that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

In a discussion with Tyler the Creator, it is clear Pharrell is also a teacher. The two jewelry lovers have a fascinating chat that takes unexpected turns including a review of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry book.

The Jacob & Co. Astronaut gold and 26.97-carat yellow diamond pendant and chain commissioned by Pharrell in 2004

The photos in Carbon, Pressure and Time visually tell the story of Pharrell’s collection. There are deep captions with anecdotes about many of the jewels. Lots of images of Pharrell in the designs are interwoven throughout the pages.

The rest of the photos are like an inspiration board of references. Man on the moon and space link up with Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club astronaut motif and other ideas. An image of the British Crown Jewel echoes Slick Rick’s sentiments expressed in Ice Cold that rappers wear jewelry as symbols in the same way royalty wears regalia. The analogy fits and Carbon, Pressure & Time proves Pharrell is a king of the category.

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