When budding jewelry designer Colette Steckel was only 13 years old, she started wiring together hair accessories at her parents’ home in Paris, using little more than Swarovski crystals and what tools she had available to her. Before she knew it, those very pieces were being walked down the runways of designers like Thierry Mugler.
“I’ve been in love with stones forever,” Colette told StyleCaster. “My dad used to travel a lot to Brazil, and he used to bring back a lot of geodes. My mom had a very big collection of them, and I used to tweeze and take the fragments out of the little case, and then I used to wrap them around with wire and polish them with nail files. Then I shined them with oil.”
From those humble beginnings, Colette has grown her jewelry business to new heights, working with precious and semi-precious stones and edgy metals like black gold and frosted onyx. For her latest collection, she crafted several “body installations” like this one, inspired by the curls of elephant tusks she saw during her adventure-filled trip to Africa.
“This collection is inspired by every region of Africa: the deserts, the sharks, the hunts,” Colette explains. “It’s not like you see literal animals in the collection, but you get to see some accents of them. It’s a ring that becomes a bracelet and it crawls up your arm, and I did earrings that become a necklace; I don’t like boring things. I like to be original, because that’s my only way to be an artist. Everyone can makes rings and necklaces; but I’m not attracted to that.”
Other pieces in the collection were also inspired by her adventures in Africa and adhere to her taste for the edgy and bizarre. This first piece is a blackened gold and white diamond “hand bar,” which is worn across the back of your hand instead of your wrist like a standard bracelet.
This 18-karat gold and diamond ear cuff was inspired by her first-hand experience swimming with sharks. “I swam with sharks, and you can see that the diamonds are in the shape of their teeth,” she says.
The designer also does more traditional silhouettes, like these stunning fossilized coral and diamond earrings. Colette’s pieces aren’t for the aesthetic faint of heart–or of the wallet. Because each piece contains such rare stones, and many of her creations are one-of-a-kind, they range anywhere from $3,000 to many thousands of dollars.
While they may not make for very accessible gifts, they’re still stunning to look at. Head over to her website to view more of her gorgeous collections!