In a studio on the upper half of a Midtown high-rise, the eight-man force behind Snake Bones focuses their hands and eyes on transforming bits and fragments of unsuspecting metal into handcrafted designer jewelry. Their final products—which include reptilian bracelets, rings and mythological limited edition pieces unrivaled in quality and look—are something you’d expect to see being worn on The Weeknd’s wrist, or any contemporary star that has the style mag’s lens pointed at their outfit day-in and day-out.
After an eye-opening tour of their designer studio, and having the opportunity to watch their best-selling piece get shaped + wielded together from scratch, we decided to pick the brand’s co-founder, Ilya Startsev’s, mind on the company’s past, present and future.
The founder of Snake Bones, your father, Anatoly Startsev, is a Russian-born artist that has been bringing admirable concepts to life for years. What’s been the biggest ongoing source of inspiration for Anatoly since the brand first launched?
A lot of inspiration comes from objects encountered on a daily basis. It can be an ancient coin discovered at a flea market or a piece of a snake’s skeleton. Another continuing source of inspiration are popular themes in art and mythology recurring throughout the ages.
Jewelry making is a particularly arduous process. What piece at Snake Bones requires the most time and focus to bring to life?
Our signature design, Snake Bones bracelet, is probably the most time-consuming piece to put together. It was also one of the most difficult to develop. All started with a few pieces of snake vertebrae found on the side of the road and continued with design sketches, models, and samples to bring the idea to life.
The final design features silver links modeled after snake’s vertebrae. The graded links make the bracelet particularly challenging to assemble as each one is made-to-order and sized to the customer’s wrist.
Dream collaboration with another brand (can’t say Whalebone)?
We love the aesthetic behind John Varvatos collection and feel like our brands share a lot of qualities—a commitment to craftsmanship and rock ‘n’ roll sensibility. It would be an amazing experience to create a jewelry line together.
Has anyone on the team ever been bitten by a snake?
Luckily, not, and we’re trying to stay clear. Our fascination with the snake motif comes from the fact that the symbol of a serpent appears throughout the entire history of human civilization. Ancient Egyptians worshiped snake as one of the gods. It is ubiquitous in Greek mythology and many religions, including the infamous appearance in the first book of the Bible. We like to think that our snakes have “magic” powers, akin to a talisman.
Can you let us in on your best-seller?
Our best-selling item is the silver skull cord bracelet. The diamond eyes give the piece a luxurious look instantly elevating one’s style. At the same time, the bracelet possesses that kind of effortless, rebel look that makes a statement.
What’s coming up next in the new year? What can we expect to see from Snake Bones?
2017 is set to be our most prolific year yet. We’re going to further explore the rock’n’roll theme, working with music artists, and creating pieces that are luxurious yet and have that edgy feel that we are known for. We are also working on some elaborate statement pieces worthy of the red carpet.