Or, there’s Swedish designer Cornelia Webb‘s Molded collection, which takes the body’s very bone structure and skin texture as the jumping off point for a range of sculptural, minimal jewelry unlike anything you’ve seen before.
While she’s based in Stockholm, Webb was in New York last month to celebrate the brand’s takeover of indie marketplace Tictail‘s Lower East Side boutique. There, the statement chokers and dramatic body chains that she made her name with during the first few years of her decade-long career were displayed alongside her newer, more delicate pieces: druzy drop earrings, rings inlaid with slices of granite, and necklaces molded to mimic the shape of the collarbone. Webb, a former medical student, doesn’t shy away from the human body: she’s used her own to make casts of thumbs, nipples, knuckles, ankles, and more, creating everything from silver-plated pendants to brass-and-marble rings.
The nipples, strung from chains to be worn around the neck, have been a particular hit—perhaps in part because it’s not immediately obvious what they are. “Women have seen [the nipple pendant] in magazines and been like, ‘What about that hat that you have?’ And we’ve been like, ‘Uhhh, we don’t really have a hat…’ This has been really popular with both men and women.”
Not that her customers are prudes by any stretch. “When we started playing around with the metal waxes and casting the nipples, I did full breasts,” she recalls. “We’ve had requests for bespoke services from customers who are like, ‘Can you do my breasts now before I get old?'”
Webb does, in fact, offer custom jewelry in addition to the ready-made pieces she sells at Tictail, Net-A-Porter, Harvey Nichols, and elsewhere—but, you do have to visit her in Stockholm, or else catch her at a stop like the one she made in New York for an appointment. There, she’ll make a cast of your chosen body part in wax, then bring it back to her workshop in Bali, Indonesia to hand-make the piece—and while bespoke items are pricier than her typical collections (which, for the most part, retail from around $35 to $250), they’re also guaranteed to be as unique as you are.
Even if you can’t snag a custom piece, the personal element is present throughout Webb’s oeuvre—you’ll find a fingerprint or two on almost every piece, whether on the surface of a signet ring or the back clasp of a choker necklace. Not only does this give them a handcrafted feel you don’t get with mass-produced pieces, it also reinforces the human connection, which to the designer may be the most important part.
“The more you wear jewelry, the more you’ll love it and the more important it becomes,” she says. Almost, you might say, like second skin.