Designer interview

Spinelli Kilcollin – “Why not?! It looks cool!”

Spinelli Kilcollin – “Why not?! It looks cool!”

Yves Spinelli and Dwyer Kilcollin are the duo behind Spinelli Kilcollin, a jewellery brand unlike any other.

Meeting with the designers at their Soho hotel, their energy is instantly contagious.

“In the beginning, with our fashion and sculptural backgrounds, we approached jewellery making from a purely aesthetic standpoint. We don’t have jewellery training, so we’d say, let’s put silver and gold and diamonds, all mixed up in the same ring.

“And people would try to explain that if somebody is buying an 18 carat gold and diamond ring, they do not want sterling silver.

“But why not?! It looks cool!”

The designers’ approach to jewellery may not be traditional, but it works.

Dwyer, who is a sculptor and artist, continues: “I think our general ignorance of jewellery best practices helped us create something unique. Our customers are drawn towards our aesthetic, because it’s a unique look.”

Their “unique look” is centred around the linked rings and a disregard for traditional jewellery “best practices”.

“We have this mix of cognac, champagne and white diamonds that we set randomly.”

The way the “random” mix of diamonds came about is “a cool story”, Yves explains.  

“I still have the drawing. We were making these rings in silver and gold for several years.

“We always wanted to incorporate diamonds. We’d say that but didn’t really know how or have any money, we were self-financed, so we had no money to take a risk on that.

“One client said I want it, I’ll pay you, I’ll order it, I’ll just cover it in diamonds.”

What ensued was a sculptural approach to the new challenge. “Dwyer came up with this idea, to give dimension to the piece, to mix the stones. And she drew a little grid.”  

“We gave our jewellers a parcel of cognac, champagne and white diamonds, and asked for the stones to be randomly set. They didn’t get it, so I had to draw a picture of what random looks like.

“And I remember the first ring came back and it was just a repeating pattern, like a checkerboard. I do understand because stone setters are so technical to be good at their craft, this was going to be hard to communicate. But I wanted crazy, all over the place! So, I had to make an even more elaborately un-patterned grid.”

Spinelli Kicollin are trailblazers when it comes to their approach to jewellery making.

“In the beginning when we would go to fashion week in Paris, people would tell us we had an interesting concept, but this was just complicated…

“They would ask, what are you planning for next season?

“No no! This is our brand, we’re building it from this idea.”

The idea central to the brand is the circle. Their connected rings are part of the brand’s DNA.

“It’s hard to get more minimalist than a simple circle. We only have one shape, across our entire brand.

“We have to think about how to maintain the simplicity of connected circles, without edges or detailing.”

While Spinelli Kilcollin’s DNA is “simple”, their approach to jewellery and to brand building is anything but. Pre-Covid, the brand had “been branching out”, as Dwyer explains. 

“I think Yves and I are both dreamers. We always have a lot of plans and ambitions.

“Pre-Covid, we had a twice a year magazine and candles and light fixtures and articles about our artist friends and art that we showed in our showroom… We developed a fragrance and we did a collaboration with Barton Perreira, which is eyewear, we made a table…

“And then Covid came. We realised we had to focus, linked rings, that’s what we do. What do people want. Back to the basic.”

Covid was a time for the designers to take a good look at how far they’d come.

“We’re now coming back into really designing new pieces, only a fraction of which have come out yet, but we just released our tennis bracelet. I think we’ve matured as a brand and as a brand aesthetic, since we’ve had our custom handmade chains for a number of years now and have been pondering how far we’ve come and where could this take us.

“I’ve had an explosion of ideas, just within fine jewellery, how to interpret through all these new categories. A lot of that is TBD.”

The future is full of possibilities for Spinelli Kilcollin, and there are some exciting projects on the horizon, as Yves expands on their plans. 

“Now that we have so much in the works jewellery-wise, I feel like, organically, we started discussing getting back to non-jewellery, lifestyle… A couple more tables going, lighting…

“When we started, we thought it’d be cool to bring our artist friends into this. And I’m really big on music, so the magazine was touching on music…

“There were so many ideas we had, that we’d still like to pursue. We love making jewellery, but we’re not limited because we don’t have this specific jewellery background. 

“I think what we want to do is open stores, one at a time. Have a store where we can bring things in, [slowly] as we’ve done with the rings. If people and clients respond well, we can continue to branch out.

“And we’re slowly getting there.”

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