Hair do: beautifully crafted hair adornments to brighten your Zoom calls

An increase in screentime is an unavoidable consequence of lockdown; and as our work and social lives alike are conducted digitally, we are searching for new ways to bring joy to our daily connections. Hair jewellery, rich in aesthetically pleasing historical references, is having something of a renaissance.  

Sophie bille brahe hair pins
Clockwise from top left, ‘The Lure of Civilisation’ gold vermeil hair pin with freshwater pearls, £385, by Completedworks. ‘Grace Murano’ 14ct gold hair pin with hand-blown crystal orb, £550, by Sophie Bille Brahe. Sterling silver hair pin with freshwater pearl, £380, by Nadia Shelbaya. 
(Image credit: Rebecca Scheinberg)

The art of adorning one’s hair with jewels had some ravishing moments back in the 15th and 16th centuries. Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Veronese and Velazquez all depicted Renaissance women with precious ornaments in their braids and curls. Now, hair jewellery is having a renaissance of its own with these lustrous embellishments being designed for everyday use.

Pearls are taking a starring role. Some ancient mythologies held that a pearl was formed when lightning struck the sea, the new jewel a repository of elemental power. Pearls, it was thought, illuminated the face of the wearer. Danish jewellery designer Sophie Bille Brahe, known for her contemporary take on pearls and diamonds, found her muse in the Renaissance art movement and created a range of hair pins. She says, ‘I was looking at Botticelli’s Primavera, where the Three Graces have long owing hair adorned with pearls, and also his Portrait of a Young Woman, where the hair is laced with delicate strings of them. I’m so inspired by the stories in these paintings.’

Completedworks founder Anna Jewsbury has also evolved her line of ergonomic jewellery and ceramics to include a range of hair accessories. These include a delicate gold vermeil and freshwater pearl pin that is intriguingly called ‘The Lure of Civilisation’.

Meanwhile, up-and-coming designer Nadia Shelbaya’s Egyptian mother and Danish father are to answer for the tension between decadence and modernism that runs through her work. This plays out in her new foray into hair pins, curvaceous pieces that entwine silver and gold with gemstones, diamonds and freshwater pearls. Meanwhile, creative use of existing jewels can also see them doubling up as hair clips; for example, a simple diamond tennis bracelet, pinned along the hair parting, can add a sparkling touch. §

As originally featured in the May 2020 issue of Wallpaper* (W*254), available to download free here


Left, Poolside Gossip hair barrette in gold vermeil and ceramic; Right, The March of Progress hair pin in gold vermeil, both Completed works

(Image credit: Rebecca Scheinberg)

Sophie bille brahe hair pin

Left, Croissant Grace hair pin in gold and pearls by Sophie Bille Brahe; Right, Kami hair pin in sterling silver and pearl by Nadia Shelbaya at Matches Fashion

(Image credit: Rebecca Scheinberg)


Tilly is a British writer, editor and digital consultant based in New York, covering luxury fashion, jewellery, design, culture, art, travel, wellness and more. An alumna of Central Saint Martins, she is Contributing Editor for Wallpaper* and has interviewed a cross section of design legends including Sir David Adjaye, Samuel Ross, Pamela Shamshiri and Piet Oudolf for the magazine.