PARIS — Byredo is launching fine jewelry as a permanent product category, starting with 18-karat gold and sterling-silver pieces due out at the end of November.
The collection is called Virasaat, the Hindi word for “inheritance,” nodding to the Indian heritage of Byredo founder Ben Gorham.
The brand has a singular relationship to timing introductions.
“What’s been really nice — and this has always been the case with Byredo — is we’ve set our own type of cadence,” said Gorham. “When you have a large part of your business through direct channels, and have spent many years engaging with a number of communities, which we have, you can launch things when and how you want.
“Our process is quite long, because not only do we design products, we truly engineer them,” he continued. “That approach, that idea of obsessiveness around perfection, takes time. So simply, we’re done with the first iteration of the jewelry and we thought it’d be a good time to let people see it.”
Byredo had officially dabbled in fine jewelry once before. In 2020, it launched a line in collaboration with Charlotte Chesnais. Gorham said the company learns a lot through such partnerships.
“All the collaborations we have engaged in, the thesis has always been that it needs to be a win-win,” he said. “Both parties need to come away from that with an experience of learning something new or a new approach to things.
“Charlotte, who we worked with, in the beginning was instrumental in opening my mind to what can be done with metals and precious materials,” continued Gorham, adding this new jewelry launch is more personal. “It relates very much to my background, my relationship with that category and those types of products.”
Byredo is rather autobiographical.
“I’ve always, for many years, just obsessed about memory,” said Gorham. “It’s still an important component in how I create. When I thought about jewelry, it was more thinking about my relationship to it, and my memories and my cultural connection to these pieces. That was very much my mother, initially, and my grandmother, and [their being culturally] from India, [where] jewelry really is something that you pass down through generations.”
Another component added to the mix of inspirations was Gorham’s Western upbringing, in the U.S. and Canada.
“In the ’90s, my big cultural influence was hip-hop, and hip-hop still today has this incredible fascination about jewelry,” said Gorham. “I tried to make something that echoed the sentiment of culture and tradition, and at the same time pushed it into being something that was highly expressive, kind of unapologetic, and that for me represented hip-hop culture.”
Trial and error went into the engineering process for the collection.
“It took a while, but at the same time, I’m very happy with the outcome,” said Gorham. “Even seeing how just within my family, how the women in my family primarily, intuitively interact with the jewelry is very interesting. It makes me very happy that people can have an immediate emotional connection to a piece of jewelry.”
There are necklaces, bracelets, rings and earring made in Italy for this line of pieces that have a leitmotif of rounded pearl shapes interlocked with graphic bars.
“I was very interested in creating a chain, just kind of fascinated by how I could start in this idea of repetition and then maybe remove components to see if they stood by themselves,” said Gorham. “You could almost say that I started in the wrong end, but it was very much about designing a chain as the starting point.”
The exclusive prelaunch of Virasaat will take place on Nov. 30 in Byredo’s Paris boutique on Rue Saint-Honoré. That will be followed by the brand’s flagships beginning Jan. 25.
Prices range from $350 for a silver ring to $27,000 for a gold necklace.
“Byredo’s intent is to create products that can really stand the test of time,” said Gorham. “Everything is very much about building upon something and slight tweaks, but ultimately trying to define something truly timeless. That’s probably easier with jewelry than it was with fragrance or makeup, which are much more fluid in today’s society.
“The way that people buy jewelry and gift jewelry — maybe sometimes because of the price points — there really is this idea that you will have it for a very long time,” said Gorham. “I considered that when designing the collection.”
Working with gems is likely on the horizon.
“I’m learning it’s an art in itself — and the next chapter that I need to understand,” said Gorham.
His plan, in launching Byredo 19 years ago, was never to have it just be about perfume. Gorham always imagined there would be more categories, to help disrupt people’s perceptions about what a brand could be.
Byredo expanded into leather goods and eyewear. Its color cosmetics were released in October 2020, and they cracked the traditional codes of makeup. The line includes unconventional hues evocative of emotions, clean formulas, plus iconoclastic packaging, product selection and imagery.
In May 2022 Spanish beauty and fashion company Puig acquired a majority stake in Byredo.
Gorham said since the brand’s inception, “the curiosity and cultural exploration continues, and I find that incredible.”
“I find it incredible that our teams — and everybody — is so committed to this idea of evolution, even as a brand, even with the success we’ve seen,” he continued. “I’m very happy that that culture lives within the company still, and that we acknowledge that we have to keep evolving to be relevant.”