Los Angeles jewellery designer Emily P. Wheeler is ready to play dress up. After spending most of the past year in isolation due to the pandemic, and even having to cancel her own wedding, she is more than ready to have some fun; a sentiment that is very much reflected in her new collection.
Titled Dress Up, as an ode to the playful and joyous spirit she hopes will grip us all as vaccinations increase and restrictions ease, the collection is an explosion of colour.
“Colour is one of my main inspirations for design and my entire collection is very colourful,” says the jeweller, who often adds diamond accents to her jewels to elevate the playful hues. “When designing a collection, I always create a colour palette once I have an idea of the direction I’m going. That palette can be pulled from a variety of places including an era, a place, a thing, or a memory. To me, colour has a similar nostalgia to scent or music.”
Emily P. Wheeler 18ct gold, opal, morganite, spinel and diamond Ursula earrings, $28,000, shop at Emily P. Wheeler
The Emily P. Wheeler Dress Up collection is certainly tugging on nostalgia, with some of the jewels named after Disney princesses and villains. The Little Mermaid’s Ursula gets a shout out with a pair of rose gold, dark Australian opal, morganite and blue-grey spinel earrings named after her. Princess Aurora, better known as Sleeping Beauty, is encapsulated in earrings with bright gems looped with white enamel bezels including heart-shaped yellow beryl, Brazilian tourmaline and Madagascan palm citrine.
As well as generally spreading joy and chasing the joie de vivre that has seemed so lost to us all of late, Emily found inspiration for this playful jewellery collection in other art forms. The Pop Art movement, Harajuku and artists including Betsy Enzensberger and Stephanie Roberts all captured her attention during the creative process, she says.
Another source of inspiration – which might seem unusual for a fine jewellery designer – was children’s costume jewels, although the clue is there in the Disney names. This gives Dress Up a dual meaning: get your glad rags on, but perhaps do it in the spirit of your younger self, elbow deep in the dressing up box.
Emily P. Wheeler 18ct gold, enamel, beryl, tourmaline and citrine Aurora earrings, $28,000, shop at Emily P. Wheeler
“After 2020, no one wants to take themselves or fashion too seriously,” says Emily. “I believe luxury is even more elevated with a sense of playfulness. I respect a style that is a creative mix of high and low, as opposed to someone who just buys a whole designer outfit and wears it as they’re told to. A diamond tennis necklace is way more fun and unique with puffy white or pink enamel. The only thing I’m serious about is quality.”