While I know that women are clearly capable of creating daring, provocative jewelry, male designers generally tend to favor more geometric, architectural forms like the designs of Austrian jeweler Peter Skubic or a somewhat ominous, foreboding tone such as the renderings of British designer Stephen Webster.
Although the creations of sister-sister team DANNIJO (USA) definitely possess a hard-hitting, urban vibe, there is a chic sophistication about them.
From my perspective, their arrangement of materials produces a daring, statement-making aesthetic as opposed to structures associated with dread or aggression.
Known for his trademark black, wide-brimmed fedora/porkpie, Borgo builds his street-tough collections through rather intense motifs of three-dimensional bull's eyes, pyramids, cubes, shark's mouths, bear traps, and spikes fashioned from an assortment of materials including aluminum, sterling silver, 18-karat gold, and pavé settings.
Though geared for women his clear-cut, angular designs so exemplify a man's less-is-more sense of style. Though streamlined in its proportions, the striking, repetitive contours and linear shapes are offset by a touch of elegance and femininity. His cross and rosary motifs provide an additional undercurrent of spirituality to his unisex style.
Borgo's regal Step Collar Necklaces, for instance, are reminiscent of ancient, Egyptian collar necklaces while the arrangement of his Star Cuff, Ring, and Pendant look a bit like a rudimentary yet glamorous form of weaponry. The Andy Garcia look-a-like partially credits his aesthetic to the 70s rock-n-roll era.
"I loved the look of the Rolling Stones back then; tough but romantic. I am also inspired by archival images of Sid and Nancy," says Borgo. "For my spring 2010 collection, I took inspiration from Islamic shields and the West Coast, punk aesthetic of novelist Kief Hillsbery's book War Boy."
The former assistant to editorial stylist Patti Wilson briefly dabbled in fashion design. "I kept making things that were accessory-oriented. I would sew shredded necklaces or braided scarves onto pullovers," he recalls.
"I have always been making weird little things, and while I handled pieces that Patti called in for photo shoots, I realized I could potentially make money off the things I created."
On his journey to establishing his own jewelry collections Borgo would collaborate with fashion designers Phillip Lim, Marchesa, and Camilla Staerk creating idiosyncratic designs specific to them. "It is very important to humble one's own design process by becoming involved in someone else's. Every one of my collaborations is a completely new experience."
I enjoy seeing this kind of personality in jewelry. Although Borgo adheres to classic forms, I like that he uses them in a rough-hewn, unconventional way. In my opinion, the approach sets him apart and makes his style more about asserting individuality than making pretty things.
"With my spring 2010 collection, I looked at different gemstones to try to make this aggressive collection softer. This has opened up my interest in doing a fine jewelry line.
I really want to take steps towards using color and start incorporating more stones like sapphires and rubies . . . but that punk, rock theme will always be a part of my collections."
Photo 1 (top right): Block Pyramid Bracelets
Photo 2 (center): Pavé Spike Pendants
Photo 3 (bottom left): Two-Tone, Pavé, Flat Stackable Rings