Layered jewelry brings to mind tribal body art

'It's jewelry as lingerie,' says designer Jacquie Aiche



Four-stone knuckle rings that sparkle across four fingers; body chains and finger bracelets studded with diamond bezels; ruby teardrop ear cuffs, pyramid-shaped ear jackets and pave ear bands — the more the merrier.

Layered is the look in jewelry right now, thanks in no small part to L.A. designer Jacquie Aiche, who has brought a new, free spirit to the world of fine jewelry.

“There’s more creativity than ever to where women are adorning themselves and how much jewelry they are wearing,” Aiche, 38, says of the trend during a recent visit to the Beverly Hills bungalow that is her showroom, where feather headdresses, petrified wood sculptures and a Stevie Nicks soundtrack cast a boho spell. “There are no rules about day and night. And no rules about buying. Women are buying for themselves all the time.”

Drawing inspiration from ancient cultures and symbols and goddess imagery, Aiche’s work mixes traditional gold and gemstones with one-of-a-kind crystals, fossils and bones for a vibe that brings to mind tribal body art. The collection ranges from $250 for a vermeil finger bracelet to $40,000 for a squash blossom necklace. She sources materials from all over the world, including butterfly-shaped tourmalines carved in Brazil, bone carved in Hawaii and shark teeth found on ocean bottoms. But all of the jewelry is designed and hand-made in Los Angeles.

No one has done more for the look — or Aiche — than singer Rihanna, who set the blogosphere on fire in 2011 when she was photographed in Barbados wearing one of the jewelry designer’s body chains over her bikini top and who often posts photos of herself wearing Aiche’s rings and finger bracelets.

“It’s jewelry as lingerie,” Aiche says.

So it’s no wonder that the designer’s lingerielike jewelry is a favorite with Victoria’s Secret models, too. Alessandra Ambrosio and Candice Swanepoel wear her horn-shaped pendant necklaces, geode rings and amulets blessed by a spiritual mystic as part of their sexy off-duty look.

“All the models I work with, when they come to town, Jacquie’s is the first place they want to go,” says L.A.-based stylist Jen Mazur. “It’s one of the few places they drop serious money. She makes so many teeny, tiny invisible pieces. You keep layering them to create an outfit of your own. Before Jacquie, body chains were such a cheesy thought, but she’s made them cool.”

“When a woman has a beautiful bra on, she knows it,” Aiche says. “It’s the same with my body chains. … They give you a certain confidence and sexiness.”

The sentiment translates into the boho Cali beach girl imagery Aiche uses for her brand. Look books and ad campaigns feature topless models on the beach, long hair covering their breasts, with layers of body chains and pendants nestled in the cleavage.

Born to an Egyptian father and a Native American mother, Aiche (pronounced aye-eesh) grew up in the Hollywood Hills behind the Chateau Marmont. “We couldn’t roller skate up in the hills, so as a kid, I was always digging in the dirt and finding fool’s gold and pet rocks,” she remembers. “I used to walk up and down the street trying to sell them to neighbors.”

Aiche has become hip to the power of social media to sell even the most expensive jewelry. Her Instagram account has just shy of 100,000 followers. She posts photos of new pieces with the hashtag JATribe. And fans post photos modeling their latest purchases. “We’ve had $15,000 sales off of a Facebook post,” she says. “Not often, but it does happen.”