Design in the Fast Lane

GIA
July 1, 2014
Sports cars. Motorcycles. Men’s jewelry. An odd group at first glance, but take a closer look and you’ll see that they share common design elements: sleek lines, polished metal, matte black and fire-engine red color palettes, and more. That’s not surprising, as these design choices project status, power, and affluence – qualities likely to appeal to all.

Cross-pollination of design ideas between the automotive and jewelry industries is nothing new. Porsche has a jewelry division that makes cufflinks, necklaces, and earrings. Ferrari makes cufflinks featuring its iconic rearing horse. In May 2013, Jewel-Craft Inc. introduced the Insignia Collection – a jewelry collection based on the five most marketable drives of NASCAR. Pieces include steering wheel earrings and key chains in the shape of racing helmets.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, some 49 companies used the car’s logo on watches, cologne, commemorative Mustang leather jackets, nail polish, video games, die-cast models, apparel, and a number of other products, according to an April 2013 web article on Marketing Daily. Breitling took the idea a step further: it partnered with Bentley to make watches that feature the automaker’s iconic winged logo.
Car design has a gravitational pull that extends far from the parking lot, influencing office dress and evening wear. Now that men are wearing more accessories, it’s natural to see car motifs showing up in jewelry design.
McKenzie Santimer, Exhibit Developer, GIA Museum
Jewelry designers use a variety of techniques to capture the sleek beauty and raw power of car design. Making a piece often starts with drawing basic sketches, which are then migrated into computer-aided design (CAD) software. Using 3D CAD software is similar to making a clay model of a car, and allows members of the design team to provide feedback easily.

"GIA's Jewelry Design & Technology program incorporates a similar design concept. Students make rough sketches of their ideas. They then create the design in CAD. This lets them make realistic, full-color renderings, and to see the piece from multiple viewpoints. Students then share their work, getting feedback from classmates and their instructor. Once the concept has been finalized, they create 3D rapid prototypes with 3D printers or wax milling," says Mark Mann, director, Global Jewelry Manufacturing Arts.

Of Hubcaps and Cufflinks

Cufflinks masquerading as hubcaps? These high-polished metal pieces sure look like them. And the matte black and fire-engine red color scheme is likely to appeal to men who love sports cars. So will the geometric symmetry of the circle-within-a-circle-within-a-circle design.


Photo, left, by Eric Welch/GIA, courtesy Craig Selimotic Danforth

Unchained and Ready to Wear

This ID bracelet looks like a motorcycle chain in many ways. It is made of a two-toned metal, has a continuous locking pattern, and flathead screws that are integral to the design. These elements make for a bold, masculine statement that are tough enough for the most macho motorcyclist.


Photo, right, © GIA

Function Over Form

Polished chrome pipes, gleaming carburetors, and exposed gears show that auto aficionados love the inside of their machines as much as the outside. It’s the appreciation of the beauty under the hood, and the valuing of function over form. This titanium watch echoes the same design principles of speed machines. It’s so stripped down that its exposed “engine” and gears are the design – something sure to rev up the car enthusiast.


Photo, right, by Eric Welch/GIA, courtesy A. Gunalp Horologist Watch & Clock Shop

Fender Bending

These cufflinks, whose simple, geometric lines evoke the Art Deco era, could resemble the grille of a classic car. They also look like tire treads.

Whatever the designer’s inspiration, the cufflinks are simple and functional. Their tri-color also makes for easy mixing and matching with belt buckles, watches, and other accessories.


Photo, left, by Eric Welch/GIA, courtesy Craig Selimotic Danforth
The next time you’re designing jewelry, take a stroll through the parking lot. A car design may end up fueling your inspiration.

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