Sentimentality has always been a big component of jewellery, but it’s really only since the monumental creations of cult New York label FoundRae that emotions have been expressed so unabashedly and proudly. Each of the brand’s now iconic talismans, designed as modern heirlooms and intended never to be taken off, are steeped in mythology, bringing together classical and archetypal symbols into a contemporary context, often swinging from a chunky, equally recognisable chain.
FoundRae’s latest creation is a new, statement-making chain that its creative director Beth Hutchens has named the ‘Strong Heart’ chain. Inspired by the idea of all-encompassing, unconditional love, the design emerged while Hutchens was rolling out long thin worms of play dough with her daughter. She then began sketching shapes formed by long tubes and elongated heart shapes, sculpturally twisting the links together. The end result is a collection of chains that subtly resembles a chain of hearts, also the label’s heaviest chain link design to date.
FoundRae ‘Strong Heart’ gold chains
‘The “Strong Hearts” chain is the first chain we have made that has the symbolism built into the design. Each link begins and ends with love since the actual shape of the link is discreetly based on a heart,’ says Hutchens. ‘The chain feels bold and tough, but then the significance of it is more like the secret note tucked into a bouquet. I feel like the “Strong Hearts” chain is unique for us because it really stands on its own and works as a statement piece, even without a medallion on it, but then also layers so well.’
Made from 18ct solid gold, the chain is artistically made using the lost wax method. There is even a patent currently pending. ‘This design had three serious challenges: the weight of the chain, the seamless closure, and the precision of the detail of the hearts,’ Hutchens explains of why the process to make the design a reality took years. ‘I knew that I wanted an oversized scale, so the methodology of production needed to be able to size up in a way that was still wearable. At first we had cast each link using the lost wax method, but not only did it become too heavy but the sharpness of the heart detail lost too much in the process and the polishing. And the complexity of the closure ultimately led us to Italy for their expert craftsmanship. Finding the right craftsman there allowed us to complete the design. The design can be beautiful, but it also has to be able to be effortlessly worn and the right weight.’
Exuding strength at first glance because of its substantial appearance, yet revealing an undercurrent of tenderness once the heart forms reveal themselves, the new chain is an icon in the making. ‘I like that the hearts are not really noticeable. They are more like a secret you keep in your pocket, like the love notes your mom left in your lunch bag or the romantic message tucked into a bouquet,’ she concludes.
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Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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