Our jewellery boxes have become decidedly more colourful in 2021. Sprightly beads, candy-coloured necklaces and rainbow rings are all giving classic silver and timeless gold some serious competition – often at pleasingly accessible prices.
Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, Adwoa Aboah et al are the magpies fuelling the renaissance of vibrant jewels – even their phones are decorated with eye-catching beads (courtesy of homegrown London brand String Ting). Bea Bongiasca’s wiggly enamel creations have been bookmarked by Dua, along with plastic fantastic rings from Spanish brand La Manso.
Now, yet another jewellery brand is quietly making colourful waves on our feeds: Brooklyn-based Keane. Founder Colin Lynch makes his hand-blown glass treasures in an industrial studio space located near the base of the Manhattan bridge. “A lot of my design process is about an ever-growing, dynamic relationship with materiality that comes largely from play,” he tells British Vogue. “It’s always a back and forth. Things are always evolving.”
Gigi Hadid brightened New York’s sidewalks with fistfuls of Keane’s glass rings earlier this year, wearing a sunshine-yellow Sllyme ring, as well as red, tangerine, lavender and baby-pink Thin rings. Her sister Bella prefers chunkier knuckle adornments; favouring the blue and oxblood spiral and ice-blue Rock rings. Keane’s glistening gems have also received Kylie Jenner’s stamp of approval: its glass rings and earrings have cropped up on her grid.
Lynch is an accomplished glass sculptor, having learnt traditional techniques in Venice before continuing his studies at the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York, then the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and finally at the Rhode Island School of Design. “Whatever I am making is a culmination of 20 years of practice, breaking things, and always trying to become a better artist and designer.”
Keane’s pieces are a labour of love. All are made on a large bench torch using a technique called lampworking: the materials come in solid rods or tubes, which are then manipulated into spherical and twisted forms. The colour is added with what Lynch describes – in layman’s terms – as a “flame activated brush”. Time spent with his grandmothers, he says, taught him to notice “the nuanced details of the colours, textures, and forms that we live among”, informing his core design ethos. Meanwhile optimism, ’60s and ’70s flower power, and the psychedelic revolution were references touched upon in Keane’s spring/summer 2021 collection.
“The craft of glasswork is very involved, with many steps and variables. Each of these variables – material choices, colour palettes, fabrication conditions – are sites for design choices,” he explains. “The line is unique in that I am incorporating the play and experimentation that I love about glasswork into a design process that is direct. This elevates glass from its familiar form of rigid craft to the functional beauty that is the pinnacle of fashion.”