There is a clear distinction to be made between an admirer of horses and the ardent horse lover. The latter suffers from an insatiable desire to acquire everything that has anything to do with horses. Fashion is one infinite source of must-haves for the equestrian, and jewelry is an especially popular outlet.
|The Epona Collection by Slane & Slane includes this pendant: an 18 karat gold horse set in textured sterling silver. $1,400; small pendant with 16” chain $730|
While equestrian jewelry goes through its fair share of changes, the trends seem to maintain a transcendent appeal.
“There is a very classic and noble approach to [equestrian jewelry],” says Heath Slane, who founded Slane & Slane with her sister, Landon. “It’s timeless, which we try to incorporate in all of our lines.”
The Slanes’ Epona Collection, named for the Roman goddess and protector of horses, was motivated by architecture and mythology.
“In architecture you find animals, flowers, shapes and textures,” says Heath. “What drew Landon and I to start the collection was to do a line of jewelry that has meaning, and mythology has an incredible meaning and history to it.
“Horses symbolize speed and virility on multiple levels,” she continues. “They’re incredibly magical beings, and it’s almost empowering to have them near you or on your jewelry. It’s a very strong totem.”
|Jenuinely Jeni’s Zodiac Ponies are hand-carved and cast in sterling silver. Each includes a card with brief horoscope. $55|
Jenuinely Jeni Inc. creator Jeni Benos also aspires to design jewelry that reaches out to equestrians on a personal level, and what better place to look for inspiration than the stars? Benos’ Zodiac Ponies integrate the dozen astrological signs.
“Each pony corresponds to its astrological sign, either by traditional symbolism or by the personality traits that go with each sign,” she says. “Leo [pictured here] is a proud rearing horse. Leos love to be in the spotlight. They are very showy and enthusiastic. Zodiac Pony Leo portrays these traits beautifully,” explains Benos.
In regards to trends, Benos says they come and go, “but some things never go out of style. My goal is to create these timeless, classic designs. A piece that will last a lifetime should be timeless.”
Cara Jones of CJ Sardi says the classic vibe in equestrian jewelry is a reflection of what’s appearing on fashion runways. “Think riding boots, plaids and crisp white shirts with touches of refined, lady-like accessories,” says Sardi. “As far as equestrian jewelry trends, our company tries to keep in line with what is being shown in the fashion world and translate those looks into equestrian-inspired lifestyle pieces.”
|This polished black onyx oval pendant from The Finishing Touch of Kentucky features Swarovski crystals. Includes 20” snake chain. $28.95|
Jane Heart, who in the past has worked with Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Gucci, also finds the fashion industry to be a trendsetter for equestrian jewelry.
“Charm necklaces and charms are very popular, so I wanted to be sure that these are represented in my line,” says Heart. “I think it is important that equestrian jewelry reflect what is happening in fashion jewelry trends in general.”
Mary Holman of The Finishing Touch of Kentucky is a firm believer in taking inspiration from the fashion industry. “We recently returned from a fashion jewelry market where we saw tons of necklaces, bracelets and earrings that incorporated natural stones and Austrian crystals in their designs,” says Holman.
A Work of Art
The enduring qualities of equestrian jewelry are not only expressed through design but also through composition. Sterling silver, gold and natural stones are recurring themes in the pieces featured here.
|The pony necklaces from Eccentric but Harmless feature a hand-sculpted pony fetish bead that is fired and hand-painted. They also include vintage glass seed beads and natural stones such as japser, agate, onyx, turquoise and amber. $185|
“There has been such resurgence in sterling silver jewelry,” says Alison Greene of Show Stable Artisans. “And sterling silver paired with 14 or 18 karat gold is always a fresh look.
“The current fashion trends for equine-themed jewelry incorporate pearls, colored gemstones, brown- and cognac-colored diamonds, and Swarovski crystals in all colors,” adds Greene.
Holman says, “We highlighted many of our semi-precious stone designs with Swarovski crystals and our customers loved it.” Natural stones such as quartz, onyx, jasper, jade and agate are also prevalent in many of The Finishing Touch’s new styles.
Lucinda Christian of Eccentric but Harmless Design Studio favors the au naturale approach in her hand-crafted pony fetish necklaces as well. Glass beads, jasper, agate, onyx, turquoise and amber complement sterling silver, gold or bronze.
It’s hard to get any more natural than horse hair, which is the most important component of the jewelry Kim Howell makes at Twisted Tails. “It is very popular because it can be made from the tail hair of your own horse,” says Howell. “This allows the wearer to always have a part of a special horse with her.”
|These cuff bracelets from Pony Locks feature a round braid with sterling silver ends. $95|
Penny Senor also creates jewelry with horse hair for equestrians who want a keepsake of their favorite equine. She developed PonyLocks in 2000 after the death of her horse. “My friends got together and had a bracelet made from his tail,” says Senor. “This jewelry is popular because of the sentimental value it has. Being that it’s a custom piece made from the owner’s horse makes it very special.”
In the end, regardless of materials and styling, the final works often reflect similar motifs.
“There is always demand for the classics: a stirrup pendant, a snaffle bit bracelet, a diamond horseshoe pendant, a beautiful horse cameo, and horse head pendants, rings and earrings,
says Greene. “Whether these pieces are in gold, with diamonds or in silver, these themes will always be popular.”
To Each Her Own
Equestrians wear jewelry representative of the horse for many reasons. Lifestyle, however, seems to be the key word.
“People who love horses wear jewelry to show their passion for riding as a statement of a lifestyle,” says Zorka Pondell, creator of Design Works Custom Jewelry Studio.
Loriece Boatright at Designs by Loriece says, “Riding becomes a lifestyle. The horse has symbolized beauty, strength and power in its rich history. I try to capture this in the jewelry I create.”
Perhaps Equine Ambiance’s Beth Brauner sums up the meaning behind equestrian jewelry best: “It’s a statement about who we are.”