Swiss-born artist Ugo Rondinone is best known for monumental stone sculptures. His work, which spans the globe, also involves painting, photography, video, poetry, and now—as part of the just-wrapped Design Miami show—jewelry.
With jeweler and close friend Gazza Graham (both based in New York), Rondinone created seven rings that relate to both planets and the days of the week. Semi-precious stones are inlaid by hand into chunky bands of sterling silver, hand-pounded and cast in the ancient lost-wax process. Symbols of the planets are carved into the side of the rings.
The motifs of cycles, time, and spirituality in nature, as well as a love of color—prevalent in Rondinone’s oeuvre over the past three decades—are apparent in the collection. Moonstone represents Monday and the moon; garnet relates to Tuesday and Mars (the red planet); Transvaal jade represents Wednesday and Mercury; aquamarine represents Thursday and Jupiter; rhodochrosite represents Friday and Venus; nephrite relates to Saturday and Saturn; and amber represents Sunday and the sun.
“They look like they could have been dropped off from a future time, or from 1,000 years ago,” said Barbara Mariani, Creative Director of Jewelry for Carpenters Workshop Gallery, which presented the rings at Design Miami. It is the first partnership between Rondinone and the gallery, which itself is expanding its jewelry collections.
At $6,500 a pop, or $35,000 for the set of seven, the rings offer collectors an opportunity to acquire work by an artist who is otherwise out of reach, financially and often spatially. In an edition of 30, the baubles will appear for sale on the gallery’s website before Christmas.
“Ugo has not reinvented the wheel here,” said Mariani. “This is infinitely wearable but also deeply personal. He has always loved and worn jewelry.” Rondinone’s paternal forebears, who were stonemasons in Italy, wore a piece of the stone they worked with around their neck, almost as a form of identity. It was passed down from generation to generation. “He wanted to come up with something that is truly him,” Mariani explained. “He didn’t just take his works and make miniatures.”