Kieselstein Cord

Kieselstein Cord - Urban Authority I

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Shades of Celadon

Urban Authority I

Barry Kieselstein-Cord is an iconic jeweller and innovator of American luxury who arguably began his decade-spanning design career at the tender age of eight. Born into an artistic family, the catalyst for this early creative output was a visit to the Museum of Natural History, where a young Cord encountered the Native American artefacts that would inspire his first designs and shape his imagination as he grew to become a key figure in American fashion. When the prodigious eight-year-old created thoughtful renderings of totem poles and tomahawks as gifts, he was even asked to sign his work by family friends who had already noted the young artist’s talent and future potential. In the coming decades, the deep greens that enriched the landscape of this classic American childhood would define the designer’s signature style, inflecting his ground-breaking collections of jewellery and accessories with ruminations on the essence of nature. 

Barry Cord established his award-winning luxury house in 1972 when he combined his mother and father’s family names to create the fledgling company, Kieselstein-Cord. As his family’s colour, green had always held a special meaning for the designer. He explained to interviewer Nancy Wolfson, “It’s the colour of growing things – it’s organic and understated.” Favouring willow or celadon green and the suggestive hue of the American dollar bill, Cord was driven to create his signature 18 karat matte green gold, a cutting-edge material that weaves a distinctive texture and tone throughout his diverse collections. 

Originally known for his intricate sterling silver embellishments, during the course of his career Kieselstein-Cord would experiment with gemstones and precious metals, achieving global recognition as he applied his trademark style to accessories, handbags, and furniture. Always circling back to the creative concepts formed in childhood, his distinctive designs would encompass a cornucopia of natural motifs, from crawling lizards to winking suns and leaping toads. Launched in 1997, the Kieselstein-Cord eyewear collection fused that whimsical imagery with the latest innovations in optical technology to create classically beautiful frames which are now highly sought by vintage collectors and eclectically minded influencers of contemporary fashion. 

A vintage rarity, Urban Authority I is a standout sunglass that channels the disco-fuelled glamour of the 70s, Kieselstein-Cord’s infamous founding decade. The oversized acetate frame gently wraps the face, offset by statement leather temples. Reflecting the natural themes that run through Cord’s designs, the black crocodile effect of the temples is flawlessly finished with white stitching and sterling silver alligator motifs inset in a circular Kieselstein-Cord logo. These vivid white touches are a delicate contrast to the frame’s sophisticated, black colourway. Including the original dark grey sun lenses, but fully adaptable for RX requirements, this mint-condition sunglass epitomises Kieselstein-Cord’s refined Americana. After more than half a century, those family friends still own the piece designed for them by the eight-year-old Barry Cord. Their eye for budding talent proved to be an insightful foreshadowing of the designer’s unique and enduring creative vision.