The designer’s whimsical quarantine fantasy comes to life with a heart motif and plenty of delicious gemstones.
Among the stars of Emily P. Wheeler’s new collection is the “Princess Bride Necklace,” made of pearls, 18-karat gold, an 8.6-carat tourmaline and 0.75 carats of sapphires. Los Angeles—Emily P. Wheeler has found her softer side. In her new collection, the designer mixes her signature sharp angles and graphic Art Deco-esque shapes with curved edges, courtesy of abundant hearts.
The range is called “Dress Up,” and it just launched at Elyse Walker.
It’s a love letter to playing dress-up as a child—some of the styles like the “Aurora” are named for Disney princesses—as well as a joyful tribute to dressing up today, as the country begins to reopen more than a year after the pandemic forced it to shut down. The gemstone-loving designer incorporated more color than ever before, in a traditionally girly color palette via many shades of sapphire and spinel. Unabashedly whimsical and effervescent, “Dress Up” is a reminder of childhood fun and an optimistic take on the near future. National Jeweler chatted with Wheeler about crafting her most confident collection yet.
National Jeweler: How long has the collection been in the works? Emily P. Wheeler: About one year. I started working on it pretty early on in quarantine and kept adding to it, with the intention of releasing it after a vaccine would become available. NJ: What inspired it? EPW: Each collection I design encapsulates a memory of mine. Waiting for the day when the pandemic subsided, and we could all go out again felt very much like the anticipation of playtime as a child. I used to create such over-the-top outfits, and I wanted to capture this in a more elevated adult version that could be worn while celebrating our re-emergence into the world. I combined this idea with inspiration from Pop Art, acrylic artists like my good friend Betsy Enzensberger, and Harajuku style to create a collection that has an uplifting, larger-than-life feel.
NJ: Is there a certain piece that is your favorite? EPW: The “Dress Up Necklace” is one of my favorites. I know the amount of work and expert skill that went into that piece, so I appreciate it a great deal. I love the look of ebony in fine jewelry, and I love the contrast of the dark, hard wood with the delicate string of pink gems. I snuck a heart in at the end.
NJ: You’re known for sourcing some really special gemstones and creating pretty spectacular one-of-a-kind pieces. Can you talk a bit about the gemstones and colors you incorporated into this collection? EPW: Some of my favorite stones in this collection are the oversized unicorn-colored natural spinel that you see in “Cuff IV” and the “Unicorn Earrings.” It’s hard to find spinel baguettes, let alone at this scale. I absolutely love the subtle color variations.
There are some special Australian opal pieces in this collection that I had my lapidary carve into hearts. Other highlights include a pink ombre tourmaline in the “Princess Bride Necklace,” Sleeping Beauty turquoise in the “Sleeping Beauty Necklace,” and two incredibly clear and bright big tourmalines in the “Balance Ring.”
NJ: Can you touch on what the last year has been like for you? How has it affected you creatively? EPW: I spent the entire year in my studio it seems. I love working in general and it was definitely a coping mechanism and just a great way to pass the time. Because we weren’t leaving home, I had more time to focus on work and was able to focus on honing my drawing and design skills and becoming better at what I do. I love that there is no ceiling in design—there are always areas for improvement and development. See more on the designer’s website.