Playful gold jewelry may be what designer Ippolita Rostagno is known for, but that is far from all of what she does. Deeply interested in craft, she spent years putting together Artemest. A labor of love, the website features artisans from all over her native Italy. A sculptor, she has staged full scale exhibitions of her work. And she is on the board of trustees of the esteemed New York Academy of Art. Now, Ippolita has merged her passions for art and jewelry with Charmed, a bold bracelet featuring seven charms by iconic artists.
She came up with the concept for the jewel as as a way of celebrating and bringing together a generation of women who do serious and varied work on women’s themes. “Charms lend themselves to figurative art,” explains Ippolita. “They are also symbolic of a classic female form of jewelry.”
After she had the idea, the designer teamed up with Liz Swig of LizWorks who finds creative projects for artists. Then Ippolita made her wish list of seven artists: Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Mickalene Thomas, Rachel Feinstein, Shirin Neshat, and Wangechi Mutu. “When I put the list together, I said to myself ‘it’s probably not going to happen so I will just put the list together for fun,” says the designer. “Well, everyone said ‘yes’ on the spot. It was a karmic project that came together easily.”
Read on to find out more about the charms and the artist’s personal connection to jewelry.
Laurie Simmons: “When I was asked to make a charm it wasn’t ‘what will I make?’ it was ‘which charm shall I make?’ because I’ve thought about creating a charm bracelet for so long. My mother wore a charm bracelet that told the story of her life. My father bought a charm for every occasion; anniversaries, birthdays and holidays until the bracelet was filled. A bride and groom, a house, a car, a piano and three little ballet dancers representing me and my sisters, each had tiny little jewels or doors that opened revealing little surprises. We used to take out the bracelet and play with it for hours. Twenty years ago I photographed my mother’s charm bracelet with a macro lens so I could remember every detail.”
The American artist, who is Lena Dunham’s mother, created an 18K green gold and sapphire charm (40 x 20 mm) that is a direct reflection of her work with doll legs topped with toy objects. In this case it is a vintage camera.
Shirin Neshat: “I’ve always related to jewelry as an art form that gives women a unique sense of style and identity. I have never indulged in creating a piece of jewelry myself. It’s particularly meaningful to create a small charm that in its modesty of scale, can be a fusion in between my artistic vision and my passion for jewelry.”
The Iranian artist’s Hamsa charm (40 x 14 mm), of 18K green gold, crystal and emeralds, has Islamic calligraphy on the hand.
Barbara Kruger: “My “charm” plays with the ideas of desire, charisma, and value. It’s “on the money” and attached to you.”
The American conceptual artist recreated the spirit of a 1982 work in her 18K white gold (30 mm) charm. One of her most well sayings, “Money will buy you love” is emblazoned across the front of a coin similar to a quarter but there are two figures. On the back, it is engraved “Charisma is the perfume of your gods.”
Cindy Sherman: “There’s something so comforting about collecting freshly laid eggs, each one slightly different yet sublime, to feel the weight and warmth of it in your hand. I’m amazed how anything lays an egg once in a while, much less daily. What a relief it must be when it’s popped out! And then we get to eat it! Unless it’s a golden egg. Then you can crack it open to look inside and wear it around your wrist on a bracelet, a symbol of fertility and femininity—and now art.”
The American photographer’s green gold egg (30 x 21.5 mm) charm opens to reveal two self-portraits in different guises reflecting the multitude of female identity stereotypes she has depicted in her work over the years.
Rachel Feinstein: The white gold oval charm (35 x 22 mm) Feinstein conceived features a hand painted enamel depiction of an eighteenth century style woman that is a miniaturized version of the American artist’s black and white enamel on mirror portraits. Diamonds accent the woman’s elaborate feather hat and form earrings.
Mickalene Thomas: The blue sapphire lip charm (32 x 20 mm) is an element of the African American artist’s 2012 portrait Din, une très belle négresse #2, a layered work with rhinestones, acrylic paint, oil enamel and a wood panel. The charm is composed of 18K green gold and multicolor sapphires.
Wangechi Mutu: “I’ve been aware of the complexity of being an immigrant albeit one with visibility and voice. ‘Pretty double headed’ were the words I used to describe that feeling of being from two places, two mindsets and two worlds all in one. It’s a privilege with a price to pay…”
The Kenya born, Brooklyn based artist created one of her collages of figures for her colorful charm. The 18K green gold oval shaped charm (30 x 20 mm) is printed resin covered in rock crystal.
The Charmed bracelet is available in a limited edition of 50 pieces. Each bracelet is number and accompanied by a booklet with information about the seven artists involved in the project. The bracelets are available exclusively at the Ippolita flagship boutique on Madison Avenue in New York City. The price is $58,000.