Stressed? Fidget All You Like With This Jewelry

Jewelry that is meant to be played with might be the ideal accessory for an anxious age.

As the coronavirus pandemic began, Jess Hannah Révész — like much of the world — found herself housebound with a surfeit of frayed nerves that needed an outlet. The Los Angeles-based jeweler directed her energy into creating a capsule collection of three minimalist ring designs — Pivot I, II and III — for her brand J. Hannah, each a variation on the same theme: an outer ring that, when spun by the wearer, moves freely around a stationary inner band.

They were part of her effort to self-soothe as she found herself making more use of fidget tools to address what she called her “anxiety and O.C.D. tendencies,” and her own take on a spinning ring that she wore as a child for the same reasons. “I wanted to reinterpret it in my own design lens and make it something I would personally use and find practical but also beautiful and could potentially help others,” Ms. Révész said.

It turns out her creations are among a subset of jewels that are aesthetically appealing, but also a playground for jumpy fingers that need to twiddle and twirl.

Worry beads are the secular descendants of strands used for sacred observances and can be held and jostled as needed. The Greek jewelry brand Lalaounis reports a recent uptick in requests for them. “They are now used to help release stress, for general soothing,” said Demetra Lalaounis, the company’s director of international operations. And for those hoping to kick a bad habit during lockdown, they’re “also often used to help with quitting smoking,” she said.

One of Marla Aaron’s habits is connected to her profession as a jewelry designer. “I’m a huge fiddler,” Ms. Aaron said. “I derive a ridiculous amount of pleasure from playing with my jewelry.” Accordingly, she named her collection of kinetic jewelry the Fiddling Series.

Like most of the pieces in her eponymous line, the new series is heavily influenced by hardware and can be worn in multiple ways. The 18-karat gold Trundle ring features a wheel, sometimes set with gemstones, embossed with personal messages or inscribed with Braille dots, that rests atop one’s finger and rolls back and forth. Her Pins Charm fits in one’s palm and features 112 gold pins topped with turquoise cabochons (unfaceted, shaped and polished gemstones) and faceted rubies arranged in a heart shape.

While the jewels may be objects that accessorize and divert their owners, jewels with sophisticated moving parts sometimes require additional technical considerations.

The most complicated piece of Ms. Aaron’s Fiddling Series is the Myriad Lock, a mechanism shaped like the infinity symbol that opens in two places with gentle pressure. It invites repeated squeezing — so ensuring it could withstand repetitive wear was one of the reasons it took nearly three years to design.

“It can’t work just once, or 10 times,” Ms. Aaron said. “It has to work a thousand times over.”

The captivating effect such pieces have on their wearers might just be worth the effort.

When Leo Neves, the Rio-based designer of handbag brand Wai Wai, wants to blow off steam he doesn’t have to look further than his wrist. He regularly wears a pair of bracelets by Yael Sonia, both gold cages containing smoky quartz beads that roll around his wrist as he moves. “If I’m sitting at my desk and need a break I’ll look at my bracelets because they’re so beautiful and the movement is so hypnotic,” Mr. Neves said. “And when I’m thinking or drawing, the sound of the stones is like my mantra.”

Ms. Sonia, the designer of his pieces, has made movement a central element of her work. It conjures “a whimsical feeling that brings you back to a happy place of childhood and innocence,” she said.

To that end many of her pieces resemble playthings for aesthetes that have been executed in precious materials. Some feature gems that glide while being worn; others are set in motion only when actively manipulated. Her signature Spinning Top collection includes a ring containing a pavé-set bead that whizzes around an enclosed round circuit while a cuff from the same collection houses a gemstone that slides back and forth on an enclosed 18-karat gold track.

“The interaction draws you in,” she said. “It adds another element, a personal connection that you bring to the piece.”

Beyond their sensual appeal, Ms. Sonia says she believes touchable, kinetic jewels are a reassuring presence. “It’s jewelry that’s not merely decorative,” she said. “Movement adds something bright. It makes things lighter without being meaningless. It’s hope.”

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