When it comes to luxury jewelry, no one does it quite like Wempe. The German brand delivers opulence in every way possible, from their jaw-dropping Berlin store (which comes complete with a jewelry workshop and state-of-the-art bar) to the actual pieces on offer at their different locations. Think watches, rings, clocks, bracelets, earrings — they’ve got it all.
Over the past couple of years, Wempe has started to work with upcoming designers, merging the worlds of historic grandeur and luxury jewelry with contemporary design. Blurring the boundaries between both and making luxury more inclusive for everyone, this step propels the brand into the next wave of jewelry design and what this space holds for the future.
Recently, Wempe brought creative couple Yves Spinelli and Dwyer Kilcollin of Spinelli Kilcollin into the family, celebrating with an in-store event that showcased their latest pieces (which are available at Wempe Kürfurstenstraße now). The eponymous label is bringing a touch of LA luxury to the German capital with its stackable and linked rings so we caught up with the duo behind the designs to find out more about their story.
How did you both get into this craft and jewelry design in particular?
As an artist, Dwyer has creative strengths, while I am more business oriented. We bonded over a mutual desire to create alternative architectural jewelry and felt that we could be a defining voice.
The first linked rings we ever made were just for ourselves to wear. We wanted something kinetic, sort of modular and layered but clean and grounded in its form. There was nothing else like them on the market and we always wanted to work together creatively so we took a leap and started SK. We approach jewelry through our understanding of fashion, art, and what people actually want; which is non-traditional elevated wearable jewelry.
I hear you started your brand out of your garage in LA. Can you recount that story for me?
It’s true! Nearly 12 years ago, we started the brand from our garage in East LA. At the time, I was working as a fashion consultant and Dwyer was an established sculptor. I became interested in the jewelry trends at the time and began thinking about the idea of the interconnected ring that could be stacked or worn across several fingers. So I asked my father if he’d be willing to make the first version of that idea. He’s a man of many talents with a love of metalsmithing. So he made it, and I started wearing it. At that point, the garage became the home base with our first design and we’ve been growing ever since!
What was it like getting your brand off the ground?
It was so gratifying! The line of Galaxy Rings received great responses and naturally fell into place for us. A pivotal moment in our brand was when we began incorporating diamonds into the linked rings in 2013. Editors and great retailers started taking notice, and 2014 really felt like a break-out year for us.
How do you keep things fresh when it comes to design?
We like to keep a balance of innovation and brand integrity. It’s our hope that our pieces are something their owners will cherish forever. With this in mind, we prioritize elegant, timeless designs that reference our central design philosophy of high-quality pieces that are versatile and fluid.
Do you lean into the more contemporary and unconventional sides of jewelry, or are you quite rooted in tradition – or both?
We saw a void in the marketplace for fine jewelry and envisioned designing within unconventional, bold, structural elements. We want to incorporate versatility and personalization into jewelry, similar to the playful nature of the fashion world — so we prioritize clean, contemporary designs that can transform with the style of each individual, no matter their gender.
Why do you think you and Wempe are a great fit for showcasing your collection? What do you both have in common when it comes to luxury jewelry?
Wempe is known for showcasing brands that are both luxurious and innovative, whether it be technologically or at the forefront of interesting design. Teamed with us being hosted in the Berlin store, home to such rich creativity, means that we couldn’t find a partner more aligned with our vision. Wempe has run away with our galactical design elements and created a truly memorable event for our launch.
Do you think technological advances will change the landscape of jewelry? If so, how?
As a company and as a personal mindset, we both greatly appreciate the ways new technology has benefitted jewelry making. These advances in everything from design software to eCommerce to customer service have allowed us to grow as a brand while fostering a happy, healthy, eco-friendly future for our team and the community.
What’s your favorite piece from your collection and why?
Yves: My favorite piece will always be the Aquarius ring. It was the first piece that started our brand and it’s the only one that I always wear. I spread it out across three fingers and find the weight very comforting. I have several versions in different metals, and usually wear a 22k gold version that was a gift from our long-time jewelry.
Are there still some aspects of jewelry design that you want to explore that you haven’t yet? What do you hope for the future of Spinelli Kilcollin?
There are many avenues of design we would like to explore. We’re constantly designing, sampling, and revising new ideas. It’s important to us that every piece we release is only of the utmost quality when it comes to design and craftsmanship, so these things take time. But we are incredibly excited to see where the future takes us and cannot wait to share what we have on the horizon.
What advice would you share with up-and-coming young jewelry designers?
Our foundation behind designing effortless pieces is to be timeless. Mix and match with the various materials and settings while also maintaining a clean architecture. Most people love the aspect of building a unique identity within a non-traditional ring, but it is also important to balance the extremes of minimalism and luxury.
Check out the Spinelli Kilcollin pieces at the Wempe Berlin store and find out more here.