Hannah Jewett Challenges Traditional Jewelry Design
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Hannah Jewett makes jewelry for a post-pandemic world: one part Terminator, all dripping metals and menace, and one part Blade Runner, at the meeting point between inorganic materials and deeply sensuous shapes. It’s jewelry tipped on its side, for buyers open to the unexplored dramatic potential of the “Thorn” gold ear cuff, which wouldn’t look out of place on an exceptionally fashion-forward episode of Star Trek, or “Desert Hideaway” earrings that could double as religious objects. “The work is definitely a bit rebellious,” says Jewett, who’s based in New York City. “My design perspective has always been driven by the desire to challenge what adornment traditionally looks like.”
Jewett studied sculpture at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and worked in an architectural firm before launching her jewelry line in 2017. Both disciplines are evident in her work, specifically in its confident manipulation — and command — of the space around the body. “My work has evolved a lot over the past couple of years, which was mostly accelerated through experimenting with new techniques and materials,” says Jewett, who now uses solid sterling silver and gold vermeil plating almost exclusively. “When I look at my first collections, I still see my point of view in them. I think every artist filters their influences and experiences through their own specific lens, and the work is always going to have an identifiable signature attached.”
The latest collection feels like an evolutionary leap forward, not least because of her new Squarespace website featuring a collection of images created in collaboration with artist Carol Civre. In them, human forms crash into futuristic domestic scenes; tiny human shapes nestle into the crook of an ear (while reading a book!), just above a sterling silver pair of Desert Hideaways, while another uses a pair of Wet Look hoops as a swing. Jewett’s work is super versatile — a different artist could have placed her pieces into myriad environments — but the collaboration here feels especially inspired. “Carol is a true artist — she fully brought the campaign to life,” Jewett says. “Our collaboration was fluid and natural — we’re both pretty high-fantasy and high-gloss obsessed, so it made for some fun images.”
With those images in hand, Jewett adapted her Squarespace website’s theme to show them off to their fullest potential: dynamic, luxurious, and super high-tech — a result the designer says was a product of the website’s built-in flexibility. “Despite the jewelry and the marketing giving off a very tech vibe, my web design capabilities are basic at best,” she says. “The design templates make me feel like a hacker even though I know close to nothing about web building.”
Small businesses are really depending on their websites to keep thriving these days, as so many shops are experiencing major obstacles IRL. Even before the pandemic, Squarespace was a tool that helped me serve a bigger audience and share my work with more people.
Fittingly, the largely self-taught designer made extensive use of Squarespace’s educational video library: “I love the tutorial videos! Most of my jewelry and 3D modeling skillset is self-taught through YouTube, so I’m a big fan of Squarespace’s knowledge library.” Jewett will take that knowledge forward as she looks to the next horizons of her work. “Every day I have a timer on my phone that goes off at 3 PM, reminding me to take a break, and I usually go for a walk around my neighborhood in the Financial District,” she says.
Normally influenced by travel, going out and visiting art exhibits, Jewett found herself looking elsewhere for inspiration during the pandemic. The little things in life started to mean much more, and wound up influencing her latest designs. “I just started designing some new pieces for the first time since the pandemic began,” Jewett says. “Abstract shapes in everyday life, like light reflecting off a car door, could be a starting point for a new jewel.” Look for new work with stones – and whatever else has caught her eye in the months to come.
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Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.