SHOP PICKS: Amelia Toelke, Sweet Sixteen All Over Again
Amelia Toelke playfully engages the language of adornment by remixing iconic symbols and recognizable jewelry elements with vintage components and historic jewelry forms. The handmade pieces are unapologetically bold and are a refreshing take on traditional jewelry design. With an eye for detail, craftsmanship, and, of course, style, Amelia’s work is uniquely beautiful, joyful, humorous, and sentimental. Amelia just launched an online shop, CharmStand, and we are featuring a curated selection from the stand of one-of-a-kind pieces from her Re-Collect series, as well as limited editions from her Sweet Sixteen collection.
Charm bracelets tell a story. Amelia Toelke re-writes the story by upcycling the forgotten and discarded charm bracelets and chains. Collecting the materials from second-hand shops, eBay, friends of friends, and garage sales, she then creates one-of-a-kind pieces that though made “new”, carry in them a rich history.
Archaeological evidence tells us that charms and collections of charms have been around for a long time. In prehistoric times they were made of stones, bones, and clay and were thought to keep evil spirits away. During the Roman Empire, Jewish people wore small charms in the form of golden amulets that held tiny slips of Jewish Law written on parchment. Medieval knights wore them into battle for protection. The charms on a balangandan or penca can be traced to the 17th century and represent the encounter between African and European cultures. (Read more about the balangandan here, it has a fascinating history.)
Fast forward to Europe in the 1800s. Queen Victoria, the jewelry-loving monarch, wore and gifted charms and charm bracelets, making them popular with the wealthy. Charms went from being symbols of spiritual and superstitious meaning to pieces of fashion.
In 1889 Tiffany and Co. created their iconic charm bracelet: a simple chain on which a single, heart-shaped charm was hung. The Tiffany’s charm bracelet almost instantly became a sought-after symbol of luxury and status and still today, over a hundred years later, that same design is considered a gift emblematic of a sixteenth birthday.
Amelia plays with this recognizable symbol of luxury and mass production in her series, Sweet Sixteen. Included in the collection are teardrop-shaped hoops made of vintage sterling silver bracelets with simple cut-out silver hearts hanging near the clasp, shiny silver keys on key rings, and the quintessential “best friend” symbol dangling from an earring.