If You Don't Know What Hoorsenbuhs Is, It's Probably Because You're Not Famous

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.
Despite that fact that Rihanna sometimes goes to Wal-Mart, Mary-Kate Olsen has a Starbucks addiction, and Jay-Z listens to Grizzly Bear to zone out, they — for the most part — are not you. Celebrities operate on a different plane. Instead of Uber, Zara, and Tinder, they've got a different set of proper nouns. And, one of those nouns is a brand even the most die-hard of fashion followers are unfamiliar with (but RiRi, MK, and Hov definitely are): Hoorsenbuhs.
The fine jewelry label was started in 2005 by Robert G. Keith, who brought on his good friend, Kether Parker, to co-run the L.A.-based brand that's quietly become a go-to for the rich and famous. Hoorsenbuhs operates at that price point that sometimes induces nosebleeds (the brand's most popular ring shape, the Phantom, starts at $3,800). And unlike other heritage labels, like Cartier or Tiffany's, whose pieces can also reach four and five digits, Hoorsenbuhs relishes in the indiscreet. Its pieces are big, bold, and gold — and according to Parker, created for those who want "a bit of a pirate experience where there's a bunch of jewelry on the table, and you have the freedom to play."
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What is discreet, though, is the shopping process, which is another reason why celebrities feel so at home with the brand. Its atelier in Santa Monica is hidden away and private. "We're real private with our space, as far as celebrity goes," says Parker. "You get a discreet, personal experience in a secure lock-down location." Adds Keith, "People from the outside are a little intimidated, because [the California atelier] is a black, beautiful, ominous building, but it's our private fun space." The two have brought many of those elements into their newly opened Soho store, where customers get an equally bespoke experience; you can either pick from a pre-set version or request a customized consultation within a custom gold vault, decorated with chair-sized versions of Hoorsenbuhs' rings and surrounded by Damien Hirst artwork (the brand has collaborated with Hirst on a variety of pieces in the past).
Photographed by John Dennis.
As far as customization goes, the only limit is quote-unquote "good taste." (Says Keith: "There's a certain limit to it — I don't think that they would want me to make something we wouldn't agree is...aesthetically pleasing.") Keith and Parker remember the first big custom job the brand did that involved a 10-carat yellow diamond: "That design has literally become the piece [that] everyone who has a big diamond in their drawer that they don't wear, because it's in a traditional ring [setting], they're all coming to us now." Most jewelry owners probably don't fall in the category of people who own 10-carat diamonds, much less ones they want to appear more casual, but then again, most of us don't have Grammys, either.
Oh — about the name: the Hoorsenbuhs was a Dutch merchant ship that operated in the 16th century by Keith's ancestors, which, we can assume, were in the business of distributing a lot of precious goods and may have shared the seas with pirates themselves (strong metaphor, boys). You pronounce Hoorsenbuhs as if you didn't know how double O's sounded: It's horse-en-boo, not whoo-ers-an-bus.
With the '70s-opulent redux that Gucci started, the fashion world is undoubtedly primed for chunky chain-link jewels that don't shy away from the question, "How much did you pay for that?" And if you've got the funds for it, that'll probably be followed up with Question No. 2: "Horse-and-wha?"
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Hoorsenbuhs, 458 Broome Street (between Mercer and Greene streets).