I saw a lot of fabulous jewelry at Metal & Smith last month, but a few pieces made a lasting impression. Today, we’re going to look at one I loved so much that I decided it needed to have its very own post. I’d like you to meet Julie Lamb’s phenomenal NYC Manhole Cover pendant.
I’ve always been drawn to the random, inanimate details that makes cities unique. If you look at my vacation photos, you’ll see streetlamps, windowsills, bits of graffiti – the minor, ubiquitous details that give a place its identity. I think that’s why Julie Lamb’s NYC manhole cover pendant resonates with me so much.
New York City is a place bursting with landmarks. There are a million and one iconic symbols of the city, which have been used in a million and one different ways.
Immortalizing one of the city’s most pedestrian details – one that the people who live there walk over on a daily basis – feels like such an intimate, genuine way to pay tribute to the everyday beauty of a place that’s so frequently dramatized for commercial consumption.
This piece comes in yellow gold or silver, in a large or a small size, so it’s incredibly versatile. You can style the small one like a charm while the larger comes on a long chain and feels like more of a medallion.
I love asking designers about their inspiration when I find a piece especially interesting. I was expecting Julie to say that her NYC manhole cover pieces were inspired by manhole covers: but actually, it was Time magazine that gave her the idea for the design.
In Julie’s own words:
I grew up in Brooklyn and attended the High School of Art & Design in Manhattan. Commuting an hour and fifteen minutes each way by subway and bus. Manhole covers and subway tokens were daily industrial details (among others like graffiti, garbage, skyscrapers, cement, etc.) that served the city we scurried through.
Seeing that golden manhole cover image [on Time magazine] made me look at this common street detail in a whole new way. Let me cast it in 18K Gold, let me add a few diamonds, let us revere this industrial design by translating it in luxurious materials.
The back of Julie Lamb’s NYC manhole cover pendant really seals the deal for me. This design isn’t your typical “yay, the Big Apple!” souvenir-type of piece. It’s made in the city, by the city, for the city.
Here’s Julie herself talking a bit about this piece and what it means to her:
‘Made in New York by New Yorkers’ on the back of a huge solid gold NYC sewer cap accented with diamonds means so many things to me.
It encompasses my love for NYC and the way we travel through it. My passion for fine jewelry in the rich materials I chose. My penchant for CAD and its machine quality precision. My deep respect for manufacturing & production: the skilled labor it takes, the jobs it provides. Patriotism in a local form, not just Made in the USA- Made in NY. My city. Having the choice to produce my work overseas and choosing home.
Here’s the silver version in earrings! My favorite is the big gold pendant – but that’s personal preference. The earrings are super wearable and the silver pieces make this design reachable at a whole different price level.
If I had ever lived in NYC (instead of just visiting frequently) I would definitely want one of these Julie Lamb NYC Manhole cover pendants for myself.
What do you think, darlings? Do you love this piece as much as I do?
An everyday item elevated! I can see a lot of people buying this in its various iterations.
I like the transit token, too. I saved some of my CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) tokens from fifteen+ years ago, when their use was discontinued in favor of cards. But the NYC tokens are better for use in jewelry, with their cut-outs. The CTA token doesn’t have those. I’ll have to come up with some sort of frame for mine if I want to use one on a chain.
I love that you saved a transit token! I bet you could do something really cool with that.
Mary Zehnter says
I think it would be a nice memento for visitors to NYC to enjoy as well.
Totally – much better than an I <3 NYC t-shirt.
Jane Strauss says
Great idea! Love it! Reminds me of the Greek key design.
I hadn’t thought of that comparison before, but you’re totally right! No wonder I’m so drawn to it.