This Roman-inspired Jewellery Line Has an Unusual Origin Story

No opera has ever had a collection of precious ornaments to go along with it, even the most famous ones. Not Giancomo Puccini’s La Bohème, which captures the trials of young love between main characters Mimi and Rodolfo. Or even Georges Bizet’s Carmen, the story of a man named Don Josè who is lured away from his duty as a soldier and his beloved by a gypsy named Carmen. Both operas are full of intense action that  surely merits its own shiny, engraved piece of gold or silver, yet no one has ever commissioned a jewelry collection to commemorate their own opera. Except Rufus Wainwright.

The Canadian(ish) songsmith collaborated with longtime friend, the New York-based jewelry designer Gillian Steinhardt to produce a collection of limited edition 18-karat bronze and silver plated baubles to commemorate the opening of his second opera, Hadrian. Based on the life of the Roman emperor who reigned from 117 to 138 AD, Hadrian will premiere at the Canadian Opera Company on October 13, 2018. The show also features the company’s debut of opera legends Thomas Hampson and Karita Mattila.

“I’m originally from Toronto but Rufus and I are friends from years ago in Montreal,” says Steinhardt. “Last year he asked me if I would do a limited edition jewelry collection based on the opera and of course I loved the idea and jumped at the opportunity.”

Even before the design process of the GS X HADRIAN collection began, Steinhardt collected coins that inspired the details of the seven piece selection. For example, Byzantium solidus and laurel motifs decorate the faces of the pendants, earrings and brooch (made specially for Wainwright), and garnet and freshwater pearls symbolize the ancient jewelry and Greco-Roman architecture with an added modern flair.

“Men and women in those times wore garnet and gold and engraving to show power, and I think that’s the way things are moving,” Steinhardt says of the wearability of Hadrian pieces for this generation. “The Hadrian collection, and jewelry design in general, is gearing toward people and is for people who aren’t afraid of self-expression.”

You can shop GS X HADRIAN jewelry on Gillian Steinhardt Jewelry now and browse through the different styles below.