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June 12, 2023

The Edit: Mermaidcore

I
n her companion book to the exhibition she curated for The American Museum of Natural History, “Beautiful Creatures,” author and historian Marion Fasel points to “Love of the sea, sports and art” as the inspiration for an influx of fish jewelry in the 20th century. Many pieces at that time were created to pay homage to a particular excursion or catch, and several sea-inspired creations went on to become iconic symbols of several designers’ oeuvre (think Verdura’s Lion’s Paw Shell Brooch and Rene Boivin’s Starfish brooch), showcasing the ocean’s seemingly infinite well of influence on art.

More recently, searches for the term "Mermaidcore" were up 183.4% from last year, per Trendalytics, with the term encompassing trends in beauty, fashion and, as we saw at the recent COUTURE show, designer fine jewelry

Leigh Maxwell

More recently, searches for the term “Mermaidcore” were up 183.4% from last year, per Trendalytics, with the term encompassing trends in beauty, fashion and, as we saw at the recent COUTURE show, designer fine jewelry. Whether in response to the highly-lauded remake of Disney’s beloved The Little Mermaid, a reignited interest in protecting our natural resources, or simply our collective desire for fantasy and escape, several COUTURE designers and brands beautifully illustrate the enchanting world “under the sea,” and with Coney Island’s world-famous Mermaid Parade celebrating its 41st anniversary this Saturday, we figured there’s no better time than the present for highlighting this aquatic movement.

Leigh Maxwell

Leigh Maxwell

While Cedar Rapids-Iowa based designer, Jennifer Maxwell of Leigh Maxwell, may be landlocked, she was introduced to the sentimental prowess of jewelry while traveling the world as an international physician, and it was through a desire to feel connected to her second home in Turks & Caicos that lead Jennifer to initially discover her own passion for design. Her Sea Horse collection features earrings, pendants and an exquisite cuff bracelet hand-carved in 18k gold, with and without gemstones, that illustrate the designer’s love for the ocean.

Renna Jewels

Renna Jewels

The foundational aesthetic of Renna Taher’s collection, Renna Jewels, is an 18k replica of two coffee bean shells Renna and her free-spirited mother found on Salt Creek Beach when Renna was just 9 years old. Growing up in Pacific Palisades, California, a love of the sea was instilled in the designer at a young age. This reverence extends to a feeling of protectiveness, and she makes every effort to ensure that her brand’s impact to the natural world is minimal. Whether subtle or overt, many pieces in the designer’s collections pay homage to the ocean and ocean life, either with her signature shell clasp, or the intricately carved rock crystal pieces in the brand’s Caspian collection.

  • Renna Jewels

  • Renna Jewels

Bibi van der Velden

Bibi van der Velden

Born in New York and raised in both England and the Netherlands, Dutch designer and sculptor, Bibi van der Velden, has a long-standing tradition of interpreting creatures of nature, both big and small, in her collections. Bibi currently lives with her family in Portugal, where she recently revived her passion for surfing, which serves as the primary inspiration for her latest collection, Waves. “Inspired by the ocean’s might and its cleansing, regenerative nature, Bibi has envisioned the sea with her sculptor’s eye, to create a jewellery collection that draws on the oceans’s mythical and organic qualities,” notes the brand’s description of the collection.

Bibi van der Velden

Lydia Courteille

Lydia Courteille

Since launching her eponymous collection in 1998, French designer Lydia Courteille has occupied a world of fantasy and curiosity, so it should come as no surprise that her prolific body of work includes several nods to sea life. A scientist, collector, gemologist and traveler, Lydia’s work is both sophisticated and provocative, and contains an element of humor and whimsicality that belies the impeccable quality of the materials with which she works and the themes her work embodies. Multiple renderings of octopuses in her collections showcase their majestic qualities, while cheeky googly eyes add a sense of levity to the designs.

  • Lydia Courteille

  • Lydia Courteille

Alexandra Rosier

Alexandra Rosier

Originally trained in Fine Arts where she refined her inherent attention to detail, designer Alexandra Rosier gained experience in jewelry design working for important maisons before opening her own atelier in Paris. Alexandra considers herself a “citizen of the world” and is inspired by a diverse range of influences, always with an eye on evoking a sense of joy and spirituality with her creations. With several pieces that pay homage to the ocean, her fish pendants are impressive in both their scale, and the evident focus placed on even the smallest details of the designs.

Dezso by Sara Beltrán

Dezso by Sara Beltrán

Splitting her time among homes in New York, Mexico and Jaipur, El Paso-native and Dezso‘s designer, Sara Beltrán, is continually inspired by her travels and her love and respect for the ocean. Both literal and figurative interpretations of shark’s teeth and shells can be seen throughout her collections, and her work serves as a challenge to widely accepted concepts of inherent value. Mixing precious gemstones with seashells, Puka shells with 14k gold, and wood with diamonds, Sara takes a fearless approach to the design process, elevating each component in her balanced, sophisticated pieces.

Dezso by Sara Beltrán

Paula Crevoshay

Paula Crevoshay

Artist Paula Crevoshay is well known for her profound use of color, applying her painter’s eye to the process of hand-selecting gemstones as she would paint on canvas. Each one of her pieces is one-of-a-kind, and themes of nature can be found throughout her extensive body of work. With multiple books and museum exhibits celebrating her legacy, the intricately detailed designs in each of the pieces from her Sea Creatures collection evoke the other-worldly sounds that emanate from the ocean floor.

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