“The dark romance of crosses, skulls and keys—this is my passion,” gushes Bernard Delettrez of his new solo jewelry collection. And in the Delfina Jewelry vet’s capable hands, this is no grungy goth-tinged trifecta. Hand-cast in Rome in solid gold and red and yellow bronzes, studded with diamonds, sapphires and rubies in a rainbow of colors, Delettrez’s collection is more like rock star style with a couture pedigree.
Preferring to keep the quality high by keeping quantities limited, the rate of growth was one point of contention with daughter Delfina, with whom he created the acclaimed namesake jewelry collection. “We’re two different people,” said Delettrez at the Public Image showroom in Paris, where he unveiled his first solo collection since leaving Delfina. “Now, she goes her own way, which is wonderful. Silvia [Fendi, Delfina’s mother] obliged me to go in a direction I didn’t want to go in, and so I started my own label.”
Delettrez’s ornate skulls are hand carved from pink coral and topped with intricate bejeweled crowns, joker’s caps and turbans, while detailed anatomical skeleton hands wrap their bony fingers around gem orbs, making for mega meta rings. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and encrusted with exquisite stones, both precious and semi-precious. A certified gemologist, Delettrez uses everything from rare purple-edged blue tanzanite to violet sapphires to a slew of natural colored diamonds (from pale pink and canary to cognac and black), but he’s no stone snob. “If I find a red stone I like, it doesn’t have to be a ruby for me to use it.” This makes for a healthy differentiation in the price point, which runs between €1500–8000, with custom pieces even higher.
The collection of about 50 unique numbered pieces—mainly 18k gold and bronze—comes directly from Delettrez’s couture lab in Rome, and are all handmade without any machines. Despite the seeming ubiquity of the line’s aesthetic inspiration, the collection already has interest from Le Bon Marche, but has yet to infiltrate the US market. “You can look all over and you’ll never find pieces like these,” said Delettrez of his admittedly exquisite take on the icon. “Skulls aren’t trendy. They’ll always be a constant. In Italy, they’re starting to call me Mr. Skull. I love it. My name will always be associated with skulls.”
Noting that Barneys and Bergdorfs are not in the skull jewelry market right now, Delettrez is working on a new collection of animal and insect pieces with high-end retailers in mind, as well as silver and bronze cross necklaces at an easier price point that might be suited for Opening Ceremony and its ilk.