“The whole concept of war is medieval,” James de Givenchy, the designer behind a new range of jewelry from Fonderie 47, remarked to us at its debut on Friday. Stemming from that belief, the Phoenix Collection is inspired by the concept of rebirth. Budding possibility is manifested in the form of an egg — but those eggs are crafted from AK47 steel.
In addition to the steel, the limited edition pieces are made from conflict-free diamonds and sustainably sourced 18-karat rose gold and platinum. Metaphorical design elements abound. Regarding the egg-shaped objet d’art that anchors his line, de Givenchy pointed out that “an egg is not as simple as it looks. It’s armor, it looks like a bullet.” Set on cracked rose gold and a wood base carved from the barrel of a gun, the AK47 steel is studded with backward-set diamonds. Squeezing a normal egg won’t break it — but squeezing this one would hurt the hand of its aggressor.
The Phoenix Collection is the first full women’s line from Fonderie 47, which was founded as a means to disarm Africa. The for-profit wing of the company funds a non-profit corporation, which works with local NGOs who perform the weapons destruction. The sale of each piece of jewelry supplies the means to destroy a specific number of assault weapons from African war zones. (The necklace shown above? Its purchase gets rid of 800 rifles.) At this point in time, the company, which has previously offered men’s cufflinks and and custom men’s rings, is responsible for the total removal of 20,000 weapons from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
De Givenchy is the third jewelry artist with whom Fonderie 47 has partnered, having worked in the past with Roland Iten and Philip Crangi. The Phoenix Collection, however, might represent its most overtly revolutionary line yet. With their charged origins, made-to-order status, and potential as positive agents of change, everything about the pieces is meant to impart a sense of meaning, action, and possibility to the wearer. In discussing his design process for the line, de Givenchy remarked on the weight of what he was doing. “It’s very symbolic. You don’t do this lightly.” To that end, one wouldn’t don the pieces lightly, either.