Embracing one’s inner child is an act of artistic freedom that often yields fruitful, creative masterpieces that transcend the artist’s previous milestones. Jewelry designers taking inspiration from childhood memories has elevated their brand to haute couture status on numerous occasions, proving that such a massive display of vulnerability can be a profitable risk. Industries of various kinds capitalize on people’s fondness for what they believe to be simpler times, and the jewelry industry in particular allows consumers to indulge in their childhood fantasy of adorning themselves in precious stones evocative of those worn by a fairytale princess or fashion doll. The inner child is an invaluable tool for jewelers, as it has influenced many of the most exquisite treasures while encouraging buyers to cast off their inhibitions and recapture their sense of wonder and boundless imaginations.
Layla Alter’s nurture of her inner child is the foundation upon which her brand, Alteria Jewelry, was built. Alter describes herself as in tune with her younger self, and daydreaming is the key component of her creative process. Her love of playtime at the beach is felt through the charms and trinkets she collects from her travels and transforms into jewelry showcases. Alter is an example of a creator who understands that a person’s inner child is the surviving artistic spirit undeterred by harsh self-judgment or cynicism. Playfulness is not derailment from a project, but rather a crucial asset in actualizing one’s magnum opus.
Children's stories are a wealth of whimsical imagery that many artists have recreated in some of their most brilliant work. Throughout his stellar career as a jewelry designer, Donald Claflin borrowed elements from tales like Alice in Wonderland and Stuart Little, crafting compositions hued with the luscious, earthly colors of nature. Ingenuousness was the perfect addition to his creativity, as he had contributed 11 years of his genius to Tiffany & Company and spent the latter years of his career constructing gold accessories for Bulgari. Emily P. Wheeler's Dress Up collection was created with enchanted royalty in mind, which is made most evident by her naming some pieces after Disney Princesses. Her Jasmine Ring is a 18K rose gold-plated ring that fuses pink spinel with sapphire, and her Sleeping Beauty Sterling Silver Necklace is a glossy replica of the one worn by the titular animated heroine. Getting in touch with her inner child turned out to be a productive coping mechanism for the loneliness of quarantine measures, and Wheeler hopes invoke that same naïveté in those who shop from her magical collection.
A common source of ideas for pieces and assortments are the individual childhood memories experienced by the designers themselves. Delicacies Jewelry, a purveyor of food-shaped accessories, embody the unabashed silliness of grade-school arts and crafts with their spiral Rotini Necklace. Sustainable nostalgic jewelry is among the plethora of high-fashion products that Mateo Gargallo offers under his comprehensive label Mateu-lo. Gargallo credits CLAMP anime as the catalyst for his interest in fashion, and he aims to craft jewels that elicit childlike wonder from within the wearer. When Mattel relaunched the 1990s toy Polly Pocket to the generation that had grown up with that brand of miniature dolls, they recruited the ingenuity of Mimi Wade, a London designer renowned for taking inspiration from beloved childhood films like Disney’s Fantasia. Wade turned the figurines into fashion statements by dangling them from earrings and necklaces made of pearls, Swarovski crystals, and pastel rhinestones.
Jewelry with nostalgic influences are lucrative not only because they awaken childlike wonder within adults, but also because they are introduced to a new generation of fledgling jewelry makers and designers. Super Smalls offers vibrant sets of fashion rings, rainbow bracelets, and mother-and-daughter matching necklaces to young shoppers. Brinker and Eliza Jewelry was born from the loving bond between mother and daughter, and their combined expertise in metalwork and fashion merchandising have culminated in a modest business that supplies parents and their children with bejeweled hair accessories and clothing. Pura Utz, a brand that employs and empowers its multiple generations of female Guatemalan artisans, features fruit-themed bracelets and necklace that exude youthful whimsicality. Millennials openly revisiting their childhood pleasures has consistently been a useful means of creative expression, and their continuous redefinitions of old tropes could inspire future jewelers to design brand new collections of fairytale-themed wedding rings or nautical pearl anklets. Age is no barrier to fun and spontaneity, and giving the inner child its long overdue love and acknowledgement is vital to the journey of maturing as an artist.