Architecture inspires Moratorium’s designs including (from top left clockwise): Kimers bracelet, Double Cut Away Pyramind earrings, Pyramid earrings, Kimers double earrings (above).
I’m always looking for unique jewellery so was excited when I stumbled upon New York-based Moratorium which was founded in 2009. It’s actually the brainchild of Hong Kong-born Jeanette Lai Thomas, who happens to be an old friend that I went to school with. I have always been a fan of Jeanette’s edgy boyish style – she hails from a family of retailers, so it’s in her genes – and was eager to see what her jewellery pieces looked like.
Inspired by architecture, Moratorium is about minimalist yet understated pieces based on lines, forms and structures. Everything is handcrafted in her studio in Brooklyn using precious materials such as gold and silver to give them a feel of understated luxury. Although her business is growing slowly – she insists that everything is handmade – Moratorium has already been featured in fashion bibles including Vogue.
I too have become a huge fan of her designs and wanted to share them with you. Read on to find out more about the line, Jeanette and her inspirations…
How did you become interested in jewellery?
My mum taught me and my sisters how to appreciate accessories. I have always believed in attention to details and accessories are the detail that makes an outfit. I took a private silversmith class while living in Amsterdam and I just fell in love with it. I loved being able to be creative and use my hands. It was also fulfilling to create things that I designed and envisioned.
Why did you decide to launch Moratorium?
My husband and I move quite frequently for his work [with Nike] and I found myself in new countries not knowing many people with time on my hands. Designing and creating jewellery became my constant in each new place. It was also something I could take with me if we moved again.
Describe your style…
Bold, minimal, physical, dynamic, timeless and un-conforming.
I think my point of difference is that I didn’t learn the traditional way. The entire learning experience was a process of elimination: even basic things like which tools or techniques to use had to be learned by trial and error. I’m not confined to someone else’s opinion of the “correct” way to do things.
Who are your style icons?
I really love Tilda Swinton’s style. It is bold, timeless and androgynous, like my wearers.
I actually don’t look to fashion trends for inspiration—it’s very important to me that Moratorium designs are not “of the moment” and transient. I take inspiration from geometric shapes, architectural lines and structures. One aspect I refuse to comprise on is material—Moratorium exclusively works in precious metals. As objects of desire, I feel jewellery should always hold aspirational value.
Top-sellers include (from top left clockwise): Rosary necklace, Triple pyramid necklace and Angle earrings (above).
Your jewellery will match perfectly with…
A classic white shirt, LBD or a plain T-shirt. I think it depends on the wearer’s attitude. All my pieces are bold, simple and minimalistic and what’s important to me is the wearer’s attitude and how they carry themselves.
What are your favourite pieces?
My favourite piece is the Cut Away Pyramid. It is the foundation of my line. It’s very simple and clean which forced me to focus on perfecting the skills necessary to get it absolutely symmetrical.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from looking at architecture and patterns. I spend a lot of time on the internet looking at images of buildings, structures, patterns, windows. My signature style involves cutting away the solid material to reveal the basic building structure that holds the piece together.
Describe your latest collection…
The inaugural collection takes inspiration from geometric shapes, architectural lines and structures. Math and geometry is a common language throughout history and cultures, which I find unique fascinating and inspirational. The great Egyptian pyramids inspire me; their construction still baffles engineers of today and yet at the same time they are very simple.
Aside from the Cut Away Pyramid, we have the Kimers, which was designed initially as my best friend’s wedding earrings. Again I took a geometric shape and cut away all the faces to reveal the basic structure. My big statement piece is my rosary. It is my take on a traditional rosary except all the pieces are pyramids. It has almost 40 individual pieces and almost 60 points of soldering. In typical Moratorium fashion it is uncompromisingly labour intensive, bold and refined.