The Making of Solange's Fetching Gold Wedding Cuffs
If there’s one thing the Knowles sisters, Solange and Beyoncé, share beyond their musical talents and appreciation of fashion, it’s their love for the edgy-cool gems of jewelry line Lady Grey. In fact, the newly wed Solange donned several of the brand’s pieces with her white-hot outfits during her wedding events in New Orleans last month with now-hubby video director, Alan Ferguson.
The designers of Lady Grey, Jill Martinelli and Sabine Le Guyader, met while studying at the Massachusetts College of Art, where they majored in small metals. A friendship soon blossomed after bonding over a shared background in the dental industry—both had worked part-time in prosthetic dentistry and orthodontics as teens. In 2007, the dynamic duo moved to New York to follow their dreams in creating accessible and wearable jewelry and two years later launched Lady Grey (named for the tragic-yet-fascinating Lady Jane Grey who was Queen of England for nine days in 1553 prior to her execution).
Martinelli met the Knowles family four years ago through her now-husband, musician Patrick Wimberly. “They collaborated on work projects for a few years now. Since then, we’ve all been like family,” Martinelli tells InStyle. “Solange called me about a week before her wedding. She described exactly what she wanted, then sent me a reference image of singer Grace Jones wearing these amazing spiral bracelets—I was immediately on board!”
Solange was involved in every design decision of the wedding cuffs—from the thickness, spacing, and length of the bracelets. Using 28 individual bronze bangles, each one was cut and resized so that when layered, they were tapered slightly to look more flattering on the arm. Finally, they were cleaned, polished, and plated in 14K gold. It took 35 hours over the course of three days in the studio to complete.
Each Lady Grey piece is handmade in the Brooklyn studio, where the two designers share a work bench. Step foot inside and you’ll find torches, polishing machines, and hand tools galore. Filled with bits and pieces of metal parts and stones, it’s the same setting that gave birth to the gold rings of their spring/summer 2015 collection worn by Solange for her wedding events, which Martinelli attended. “Witnessing two amazing people get married and sharing in celebrating their life together was truly inspiring,” she said.
Even Tina (aka Mama Knowles) sported a Lady Grey Channel Arc Cuff from the fall/winter 2014 collection (above), made with gold and sparkly crushed bismuth detail, to the wedding. Beyoncé has worn plenty of their pieces on varied occasions both on stage and off. Our favorite is the 4-Finger Studded Lattice Ring, cast in 14K gold with light antiquing (below). “It’s worn like a glove—something that feels almost like armor, but also delicate and feminine,” Martinelli says. “The lattice pattern really embodies references to gates and protection, but is also ornamental and decorative. Plus, it’s comfy and easy to wear!”
What’s next in store for Lady Grey? “I did promise Beyoncé at the wedding that we would start making grillz ... so we’ll see!” says Martinelli.
Channel the Knowles ladies’ style and shop all of the Lady Grey jewels ($95 to $2,160) on ladygreyjewelry.com. Bonus—you can also pre-order select pieces worn by Solange during her wedding day ($145 to $215). We’ll take one of each please!