By Regina M. Connell.
I’m not sure where this comes from but I’m incredibly picky about metals and finishes.
Overall, patina and texture work for me, feels easier to live with and is more straightforward to blend with what you have, whether it’s objects or clothing. Most things with a satin finish, yes. Anything polished and shiny, no. Bronze, yes, particularly oiled bronze. But traditional brass, absolutely no unless it’s antiqued or distressed.
But I do make an exception for white brass which has a silvery warmth that manages to blend warmth with modernity. White brass, also known as nickel silver, is a copper alloy with nickel and zinc and its color stands it in stark contrast from the well, brassiness, of traditional brass. It’s also known as German Silver, and prior to the advent of sheet metal was used in automotive manufacturing, including the original Silver Ghost by Rolls-Royce.
I first noticed the material when I saw architecture firm Marmol Radziner‘s white brass jewelry collection, featuring gorgeously minimalist but statement cuffs, earrings, and rings.
As is often the case, the use of the new material stemmed from a necessity of sorts. Marmol’s current offerings use brass and bronze, which come in a myriad of finishes, including light, natural, distressed, dark, and torched. When Chief Jewelry Designer Robin Cottle wanted a gift for a friend who only wears platinum and silver tone metal, she saw an opportunity to complement the existing collection: the silvery appearance of white brass pairs well with other cooler-toned metals like stainless steel, platinum, silver, and white gold.
Like the existing collection, the new collection is fabricated in small production runs by the firm’s own in-house metal shop. Each piece is handcrafted by master craftsmen who produce the firm’s custom architectural hardware, furniture, and objects (like one of our favorite menorahs).
“Exploring new ways to create wearable jewelry made from architectural material is an exciting challenge for us,” says Cottle. “Unlike the tradition of cast jewelry, we cut, torch, and hammer to create each ring, earring, and cuff.”
How does an award-winning architecture firm come to make jewelry? Marmol Radziner Jewelry was originally conceived in 2010 by Marmol Radziner Design Principal Ron Radziner, who was having little luck finding men’s jewelry that was both minimal and substantial. Inspired by a piece of metal he found on the beach years ago that he wore as a bracelet, Radziner asked the metal shop to create a variation of it with the same dark patina as the firm’s custom hardware. Soon after, Cottle and a couple of the firm’s architects designed pieces they wanted to wear, and a jewelry collection was born.
White brass or silver nickel: whatever you call it, it’s beautiful.
All images courtesy of Marmol Radziner