By now you should have seen or heard of the Bottega Veneta telephone cord necklace that gave anyone Gen X or older serious nostalgic vibes. Mad props to the designer who made sure to throw in a few gnarly twists and misshapen coils so it really resembles the real thing—used, rather than fresh out of the box. To all Millennials and Gen Z-ers, if you’ve never seen an actual telephone cord, that necklace is an exact replica.
Except when you try to stretch or pull on those springy curls because this lovely loopy necklace is actually made of sterling silver. It is also coated with a layer of enamel in lush and pretty colours like green and lilac, as well as neutrals like white. The entire piece flexes just enough to allow you to open the clasp and place it around the neck, wearing it as you would a choker.
With the right clothes it could look rather artsy (with a side of irreverence) although we wouldn’t exactly call it timeless classic jewellery even though its price tag suggests otherwise.
Bottega Veneta Japan is retailing this necklace for 247,500 yen (approximately a little higher than S$3,100) which is quite a bit more than one would expect to pay for a fashion accessory—and what caused the kerfuffle on the Internet.
But then again, we do live in a time when luxury fashion houses have taken fancy to drawing inspiration from everyday objects. Recall the Balenciaga “Ikea” shopper tote, Vetements’ DHL T-shirt, Prada’s luxury paper clip which is actually a money clip (but still!).
Do people want luxury goods to remind them of a cheaper lookalike, or are these designs fundamentally interesting because they made us stop and think?
In the case of Bottega Veneta’s necklace at least, we believe the designer had put in a little more thought than it appears. As it was primarily created for the Japanese market, and the Japanese as we all know love all things kooky crazy kawaii, all things ironic, it feels right for the intended audience. Not to mention the materials used in producing the piece; enamelled sterling silver is totally on-trend in various pockets of the jewellery world.
Indeed, there is so much more to jewellery than precious gold and sparkling gemstones. Take it from our favourite It Girls who have gone all out on enamel jewellery to add a splash of bold colour to their outfits. Dua Lipa, Bella and Gigi Hadid, and even Megan Thee Stallion are just some who’ve been completely won over by the works of designers such as Bea Bongiasca, Alison Lou, Melissa Kaye, and more.
Of course in this space we have the usual big players giving us lots of good stuff: Hermès with its Clic Clac series, Tiffany & Co. with the “Jackie Kennedy” bracelet by Schlumberger, and Austrian label Freyville bringing fine arts-inspired enamel jewellery to the table. Dior has even been known to use traditional enamel in its high jewellery creations.
The best thing about enamel is that it never fades, its colour remains forever pristine. It also doesn’t scratch, although it can crack. Glass powder enamel is the best quality enamel—you also find it in top quality luxury timepieces—while less expensive designs typically rely on synthetic resins to achieve a similar effect.
With the cutest designs starting at the ultra-affordable end of the pricing spectrum, it’s no wonder enamel jewellery are now hotter than ever. Read on for Vogue Singapore’s edit of the best enamel jewellery brands to shop now wear forever.
Alison Lou signet rings in 14K gold
This fine jewellery brand based in New York City brings a playful spirit to jewellery design, finding inspiration in everyday objects and places. Her latest Loucite collection of hoop earrings has been worn by Emily Ratajkowski, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Gigi Hadid, Tracee Ellis Ross, Celine Dion, and many more.
Bea Bongiasca Lucky Flower earrings
A Central Saint Martin jewellery design graduate, this Italian designer is known for her Tendrils collection of rings crafted as vines which are paired with precious or semi-precious centre stones. Her pieces are firm favourites of Dua Lipa who is frequently photographed wearing Bongiasca’s rings by the stack.
Hermès Clic Clac H Cheval Pixal bracelet
Enamel features regularly in Hermès’s fashion jewellery collections, particularly for perennially popular designs such as Clic H, Clic Clac H, Clic Anneau, as well as the classic bangles and hinged bracelets.
Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Croisillon bracelet
These vibrant gold and enamel bangles are an object of legendary status. Also known as the Jackie bracelet (Jackie Kennedy was frequently seen wearing one) these chunky pieces feature paillonnée enamel which involves gold leaf spangles set into vitreous enamel and then fired repeated to achieve the perfect intensity of colour.
Melissa Kaye Remi rings in 18K gold and diamonds
A New York-based fine jeweller, Kaye’s pieces are chic and current, drawing inspiration from geometric and natural patterns. She works with precious 18K gold in combination with diamonds and other precious stones, accenting these luxurious materials with neon enamel colours.
Freyville Hommage à Vincent van Gogh – Éternite bangle
This Austrian label got its start in the 50s when artist Michaela Frey sought to create decorative objects made of enamel. Jewellery came into the picture a little later on, but the pieces are perpetual tributes to the greatest artists of all time. Made by the fire enamel technique, they are literally wearable pieces of fine art.
Bottega Veneta silver ring with cubic zirconia
Even if the telephone cord necklace doesn’t appeal to you, consider other enamel creations by the Italian luxury company. This cute silver ring coated with enamel and paved with cubic zirconia would be so much fun to wear.
Shang Xia Paris Fu Qi long necklace
A purveyor of artisanal crafts, Shang Xia gained fame as the Chinese luxury label backed by Hermès. But a quick look at its pieces, which range from ready-to-wear and leather goods to home accessories and jewellery, and it becomes clear why the French giant wanted in from the start. Quality craftsmanship meets thoughtful modernised Asian inspired designs, though it’s the brand’s creativity that will impress you most.
Jouer by Simone Artist Macaw ring
Local jewellery designer Simone Ng has taken Singapore onto the jewellery world map with her exquisite one-of-a-kind creations, now retailing at Harrods London. Lucky for us, she also started this spin-off label which combines precious materials with bold and modern concepts. The Artist collection features generous use of enamel juxtaposing with gold and diamonds.
State Property Boyd ring in 18K white gold with blue sapphires
A rising star in every sense of the word, State Property offers a unique perspective on everyday wearable pieces tinged with a local or Asian element. There is also a strong sense of timelessness in the designs with a meticulous focus on quality materials. The Voyager collection includes bold use of coloured enamel against gold and ornamental stones.
Yvonne Henderson Jewellery gold colour pop necklace
This British designer specialises in demi-fine jewellery featuring timeless motifs and themes such as zodiacs, birthstones… anything pretty that catches the eye, really. The Colour Pop collection includes heart-shaped pendants filled with enamel for a simple but memorable style.