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Dani Michail is proving that upmarket jewels don't adhere to gender boundaries, and that badass good taste is unbiased with his decadent, irreverent accessories label Stones Of Character. His pieces recall lost pirate treasure, utilizing old-school cuts of diamond, ruby, and other precious gemstones, and bearing some serious weight from high quality metals including sterling silver and 18k yellow gold.
Iran-born Michail is a craftsman and metallurgist of the highest order; he spends weeks conceiving and creating custom pieces for rock stars, celebs, and anyone with the urge for finery and the bucks to back it up. You might start out with a Bieber-fave and (comparatively) affordable macramé bracelet ($425), although buying anything from Stones Of Character feels akin to investing in wearable, sculpted gold bullion.
At the moment, you'll find the largest portion of the entire collection in the fine jewelry lineup at WeHo's luxe Church Boutique (check out the diamond microphone necklaces) and an edited set at cool-girl accessories spot Roseark, featuring incredible diamond pavé bangles and thick-banded rings. We wanted to find out a bit more from Dani about his aesthetic, inspirations, and where an upscale jewelry designer actually shops in LA.
How did you get started creating your brand?
As a child, I had always been intrigued by lost treasures and manipulating them in such a way to create something new. A few years ago I was in a very serious car accident, in which I was bedridden for 5 months. The lack of doing my routine activities gave me the opportunity to act upon my desire to play, and have an abstract interpretation with an array of gemstones, minerals, and metals. Their imperfections mirrored the blemishes I was facing in my life at the time and their color and shapes were the true inspiration and are what allowed me to see the true beauty in each of them. In turn, their uniqueness led me to believe that each one one had its own character that demanded to be maintained and not altered.
My custom pieces are much more than an amalgamation of all of these mediums, rather a mindset which embraces the uniqueness in everything. In a time of tragedy I happened to discover where my true passion lies and my philosophy of my life, to find allure in imperfections, which is expressed in my pieces.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you’re creating?
My aesthetic is my heritage. I come from four generations of antique dealers from Iran.
I was raised in Italy until I was 14 so there is a marriage of cultures in my work. The geometry of the Persian rugs and the metropolis life in the streets of Milan was embedded in the dichotomy of culture that I grew up in. I wanted to bring it down to size and saturate it through creating pieces that were unique to that background.
Nothing compares to the cerebral experience of studying art of all genres, especially that of the old masters. The colors, textures and movements are easily something I draw a lot of my inspiration from. It's imperative to know "what once was" in order to be able to create "what now is."
Living in LA exposes us to many superficial outlets but it was really diving into what I knew best and cherished the most that helped me garner the elements I work with. The beauty that comes with living here now is the laid-back attitude that comes through in my work. Everything is organic. I don't like overthinking it, otherwise the essence is lost.
On average, how long does it take to make a single piece?
Perfection does not exist and no piece is ever complete, each piece is always craving another stone, another ounce of blood. There's no real fixed amount of time but to throw a number out there, it takes about 2 weeks to really see an individual piece come to life.
Who are some of your style icons?
My grandfather Sani, Mick Jagger, Lenny Kravitz, Farah Pahlavi, Rodney Burns, Giovanni Agnelli—they all have such an air of carefree living. They are so true to who they are and don't really care to give it a second thought.
What are some of your favorite places to shop in LA?
The city is filed with really what I consider gold mines of underrated style and fashion. I love vintage fashion, the worn in and roughened quality of the clothing complements the craftsmanship of my pieces. It all tells a story. I tend to frequent places like Church Boutique, Wasteland, and American Rag for solid wardrobe finds. LA also provides a plethora of incredible flea markets and estate sales that are cool to visit when I need a little more inspiration. The high-end establishments that sell beautifully handmade pieces are something of a marvel to me. There's truly a pulse to the fashion scene in this city.