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Hoorsenbuhs, a luxury jewelry label, sets sail with style collaborations and a Santa Monica store

SANTA MONICA, CA-NOVEMBER 19, 2018: Brand director Kether Parker, left, and founder/designer Robert
Brand director Kether Parker, left, and founder-designer Robert Keith inside the new Hoorsenbuhs store on Main Street in Santa Monica. Hoorsenbuhs is an upscale unisex jewelry brand specializing in rings, necklaces and bracelets.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

There is nothing precious about Hoorsenbuhs fine jewelry. The signature pieces of the Santa Monica-based company are weighty unisex rings, necklaces, cuff bracelets and wallet chains with a bold tri-link chain motif inspired by a stud-link anchor on the Hoorsenbuhs, a 16th century Dutch merchant ship captained by founder Robert Keith’s ancestor.

Each piece is designed at the brand’s atelier on Main Street in Santa Monica and meticulously handcrafted in downtown Los Angeles. It was by appointment only until last month’s opening of an additional workshop and the first permanent Hoorsenbuhs retail store directly across the street. (Select pieces from the label, which previously had a pop-up shop in New York, are available at Barneys New York, Maxfield and other upscale boutiques.)

Hoorsenbuhs jewelry has been donned by Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Gwyneth Paltrow, David Beckham, Mary-Kate Olson, Katie Holmes and Jay-Z, who co-designed a family-crest knuckle ring with Hoorsenbuhs for the Barneys 2013 holiday collection. Brand director Kether Parker, who joined the company about a year after its 2005 launch out of a Quonset hut in Santa Monica, is married to fashion stylist Mariel Haenn, the business partner of stylist Rob Zangardi, whose clients include Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani. (Stefani regularly wears a Hoorsenbuhs Phantom Clique ring on her middle finger, Parker said.)

SANTA MONICA, CA-NOVEMBER 19, 2018: Phantom Clique rings, made out of 18 carat rose gold with white
Phantom Clique rings, made out of 18-karat rose gold with white diamonds, are on display inside the new Hoorsenbuhs store.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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“We have a bit of rock ’n’ roll edge, but we’re all in bed by 10 o’clock,” Parker joked, adding that he and Keith both have infants at home.

Hoorsenbuhs’ U.S. business has focused on 18-karat rose, white and yellow gold designs, ranging from $1,000 for a small ring to $150,000 for a seven-layer chain necklace with colored gemstones that represent the seven chakras. The latter is the first piece in a forthcoming high jewelry collection, set to debut early next year, that will include diamond solitaire rings and tennis bracelets. The new boutique is also introducing more affordable sterling silver and sterling-and-gold pieces, starting at $250, next year. A recent addition is the Sacred Collection of classic link designs hand-melted by Keith as numbered one-of-a-kind editions. All styles can be customized on site with specific metals, chain lengths and widths, precious stones such as diamonds, rubies and emeralds, and personalized engraving.

Also late last month, Hoorsenbuhs introduced a line of luxury eyewear, designed by Keith and handmade in Japan with musician and eyewear developer Austin Sands. The collection, available exclusively at the Hoorsenbuhs store and Hirshleifers boutique in New York, includes three timeless acetate frames in four colors, each ($700 to $800) embellished with subtle tiling and tri-link detailing along the sides in 24-karat gold over sterling silver. Metal frames and additional designs will be added in 2019.

SANTA MONICA, CA-NOVEMBER 19, 2018: The eyewear display with 100 percent handmade frames from Japan
The eyewear display with 100% handmade frames from Japan is inside the new Hoorsenbuhs store in Santa Monica.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Exclusive to the Hoorsenbuhs boutique is a branded collection of made-in-L.A. apparel and accessories (aside from silk scarves made in Italy), starting at $125 for graphic-print T-shirts, which Parker described as “basic, classic pieces in super-comfortable fabrics, designed for leisure and travel.” Also in the mix are quilted nylon jackets, hoodies, sweatpants, leather backpacks and duffel bags, link-motif cashmere blankets (that cap out the range at $1,000), and a high-top sneaker collaboration with L.A. brand Buscemi. Coming soon are cashmere-blend plaid shirts that Keith has developed with LVMH-owned Italian luxury brand Loro Piana.

The Santa Monica boutique also serves up Gem & Bolt X Hoorsenbuhs mezcal, created exclusively for guests. Walls of the 5,000-square-foot space are decorated with work by artists Wes Lang, a longtime collaborator with Kanye West on Yeezy merchandise, and Damien Hirst, who has an ongoing collaborative Cathedral Collection with Hoorsenbuhs that includes rings and a rosary necklace adorned with bejeweled pills. (A large, chunky bracelet is in the works, Parker said.) The restroom in the store is adorned with Hirst’s diamond-patterned wallpaper.

SANTA MONICA, CA-NOVEMBER 19, 2018: A bronze and Italian leather Phantom lounge sculpture that doub
A bronze and Italian leather Phantom-inspired sculptural lounge chair inside the new Hoorsenbuhs store.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Every other detail in the new atelier-boutique, down to logo-stamped brass bolts in the walls, was designed and crafted by Keith. There’s an enormous brass vault door that took over a year to make as well as sculptural bronze chairs ($60,000 each) shaped to mimic the brand’s top-selling Phantom ring. One display case appears to float between floor and ceiling on a giant sterling silver open-link chain while the top of another case, conjured by Keith and created by Chris Dunlop of L.A. fingerboard company BeastPants, replicates a skate park in miniature, complete with palm trees, gold chain details and a working Hoorsenbuhs logo skateboard.

SANTA MONICA, CA-NOVEMBER 19, 2018: Overall, shows the exterior of the new Hoorsenbuh’s store on Ma
A look at the exterior of the new Hoorsenbuhs store in Santa Monica. Outiside, brand founder and designer Robert Keith walks to his restored, matte black 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“We don’t like to buy anything from anyone because I want things a certain way, in certain measurements. It was a natural evolution from when I started collecting and making props for my shoots,” said Keith, a former fashion photographer wearing a leopard-print hat embossed with the Hoorsenbuhs logo that his friend Gen Katsuragawa of Love Ear Art custom-made to his liking in conjunction with a matching leopard-patterned gasoline tank for his 1970s Harley-Davidson motorcycle. (The bike was parked in front of the atelier alongside Keith’s restored, matte black 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche with a chrome bumper.) “I’m very particular about the things I acquire,” he said.

Since making his initial trip to Burning Man this summer, Keith has been working to incorporate tourmalines, tanzanite and quartz (crystals often touted for their healing properties and high-energy vibrations) into the Sacred Collection.

SANTA MONICA, CA-NOVEMBER 19, 2018: Founder and designer Robert Keith is photographed in his design
Hoorsenbuhs founder and designer Robert Keith in his design space.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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“Now I’m into intention-based items, so I’m even more particular. Some people are even bringing their stones to me and asking me to re-purpose them into a piece,” Keith said.

“Each one is a single, unique piece of art. We don’t even hold [on to] a mold,” Parker said.

Hoorsenbuhs, 2217 Main St., Santa Monica, (888) 692-2997, hoorsenbuhs.com, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


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