We present our selection of archivists who excel in "curating the world's best face furniture", providing accessory inspiration and history lessons in equal measure
As far back as we can trace, humans have derived pleasure from excavating rocks from the earth and uncovering jewels; from Pliny comparing the beauty of rubies, amethysts and emeralds, to Balzac using pearls as a metaphor for human pleasure. It is quite a mean feat, then, to present jewellery in a way which feels completely fresh.
Fortunately, Instagram offers a window into the worlds of those managing to do exactly that: people and publications who tap into our apparently innate desire to stare at things that glitter, but who also take a beautifully new perspective on our proclivity. Here we present three of our favourite accounts providing a dose of bijou wonderment via visual collations of jewellery’s most inspirational moments, past and present.
On the Rocks is the Instagram account curated by the independent biannual publication of the same name, whose A/W16 issue, the fourth so far, launched this week. The magazine’s mission is described as “reflecting the exceptional and aspirational qualities of the art of jewellery” and, with their latest issue featuring gems such as the late Zaha Hadid’s collaboration with Georg Jensen, they certainly deliver. In a captivating, moodboard-style Instagram feed, it collates a combination of archive fashion images – from 1960s Vogue jewellery features to works by Richard Avedon – and original photo stories lifted from the pages of its collectible print magazine.
Aside from its mesmerising jewellery shoots, what makes the account most follow-worthy are the insightful captions which accompany these images, providing little-known information about jewellery’s cultural and anthropological significance and the methods and materials that go into its crafting. One stand-out post, for example, is a beautiful shot of a young Tibetan woman in traditional jewellery worn at ceremonies. The accompanying caption explains: “In Tibetan culture, jewellery is not only an ornament but has symbolic and economic value, protecting the wearer and indicating his or her social ranks. Many ornaments are made by coral, used as a talisman against bleeding and evil spirits, and mila, a kind of amber only found in Tibet.” But it’s not all anthropological facts; there’s plenty of irreverence too. See the quote from the magazine’s second issue, taken from a conversation with legendary jewellery designer Kenneth Jay Lane, a regular at New York’s Studio 54 nightclub, for instance: “I didn’t do precious jewellery because I’m too lazy to pick up an emerald if it falls on the floor.” A truly comprehensive lesson in ornamentation.
Earafterear’s short but sweet Instagram bio succinctly describes its purpose as “curating the world's best face furniture”. Thinking of jewellery as furniture for one’s face encourages a focus upon its design, which is in line with the account’s inception. Its creator, fashion journalist Tilly Macalister-Smith, recalls, “It’s a fun project that I’ve been thinking about for a while. But it really kicked off when I walked into a little indie boutique in Brooklyn and discovered Annie Costello Brown’s amazing earrings, all named after key movements in art. I bought a pair and have been asked non-stop about them so posted a pic of me wearing them and it got a lot of feedback. Earrings can be such a mood changer!” We couldn’t agree more, and this assortment of inspirational earring moments, both old and new – from Christy Turlington decked out in diamond drops captured by Peter Lindberg, to model and activist Adwoa Aboah backstage at Ashley Williams S/S17, ears adorned with oversized rocks – is an ear-candy pick-me-up, if ever there was one.
Double_disco is the feed pertaining to stylist-turned-jeweller Ana Ifould’s earrings line, and as you may guess from its name, it's full of inspiration from the golden age of disco, a time when she feels glamour was far better represented. What attracts Ana most to the disco culture that inspires her designs and Instagram moodboard alike, she explains, is “the freedom that people felt at that point in time, and the frivolity that was less thought out than what we see people doing now to represent style.” From Brian Ferry to Bianca Jagger, and the one and only Grace Jones, scrolling this grid for glitzy inspiration equates to getting lost in an archive of original vintage photographs of 70s style and music legends. Add to that Ana’s sculptural earring designs and countless disco ball images, and you have a dazzling account that would satisfy the most magpie-like amongst us, only perhaps rivalled by a tour of Donna Summer’s dressing room.