At the West Hollywood studio of artist Jeffrey Gold, jeweler Jeffrey Beri noticed a sculpture of a human hand atop a table.
That planted the seed of an idea: jewelry centered on this particular appendage.
Hand to Hand by J&F is Beri's debut under the brand he launched 18 months ago, after 25 years on and off with David Yurman, a jewelry brand long beloved among the red carpet set.
Hand to Hand by J&F — the initials belong to Gold and a third partner, Swedish artist Ann-Sofie Lakso, who goes by the name Fred — is set to launch exclusively at Maxfield in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Beri describes the line as "miniaturized works of art" in which the hand — in a peace sign, a fist pump, fingers crossed — is front and center. The pieces are handmade by Beri from a wax carving done by Gold in the brand's West Hollywood workshop.
"To make jewelry based on a part of the body is challenging," said Beri, who shuttles between Los Angeles and New York. "Each style has its own history and philosophy."
Lakso researched the genesis of each motif: Crossed fingers originated in 16th century England, where people crooked one finger over another to ward off bad luck. The peace sign was devised in 1941 by a Belgian refugee to represent V for "Victoire" and to motivate others to seek justice. Namaste — hands benevolently folded as if in prayer — symbolizes another's divinity.
Beri and Gold have woven seven vignettes into hands that come in gold, silver, bronze or a new material, XMetal, a compilation of alloys, rendered in necklaces and bracelets. The hands are pendants suspended from chains in 18-karat green gold and anti-tarnish silver, African wooden beads, waxy hand-cut leather and briolettes in yellow and blue sapphires and black diamonds. They can be worn layered or as a choker with a signature clasp. Details are rich: a tiny floral emblem, a miniature rivulet of diamonds, acid-washed gold, silver oxidized for a well-worn feel. The esoteric symbol for chakras, energy points in the body according to Hindu tradition, is relief-carved on certain styles.
"Each piece is numbered and comes with an authenticity card inside a suede-lined box," said Beri of the limited-edition collection. "And we're not doing any custom designs. This is it."
Prices will range from $675 to $85,000, with most pieces in the $1,700 to $3,600 range.
Sarah Stewart, buyer for Maxfield, said she was particularly interested in Hand to Hand because of its unisex appeal.
"I also like that there are a lot of positive symbols associated with it," she said. "It's like wearing something that reflects how you are feeling. It's good when a piece of jewelry can be personalized like that."
Hand to Hand is a launch pad for Beri's plan to join the worlds of art and jewelry. He is in early talks with Thor Peterson, a rancher in Patagonia, Ariz., who sculpts steel and metal, to potentially bow a jewelry line based on longhorn skulls and deer antlers.
"There's no end to the possibilities," he said.