Chain Gang

The siblings behind Bing Bang unveil a hand-hewn line of jewelry just for guys. By Jonathan Forgang
In the past, men's jewelry was attractive almost as often as it was awkward or even repulsive. That stigma has changed over the past few years, mainly because designers have become more in tune with how to make jewelry look rugged and refined at the same time.
Bing Bang jewelry, comprised of founding designer Anna Sheffield and her brother, director of operations Kevin Kearney, have thus far created two highly successful women's collections. In the past, Sheffield has collaborated with such designers as Marc Jacobs and Phillip Lim, but this time around it was Kearney who was her creative partner. Building on the raw and elegant style of the past women's collections, the men's line of Bing Bang references the Gangs of New York-era by trying to achieve a simplicity and roughness rather than the polish and gloss of a lot of the men's jewelry already out there. Kearney had been trying to get his sister to design a men's collection for months when she finally agreed to the venture. Kevin told us, "Out of nowhere she came into the studio and said, 'Alright, we're doing it. I have a great idea—the Bowery Boys and the Five Points. The Gangs of New York.'"
This rough and tumble 19th-century era may not immediately bring images of jewelry to mind, but much of the inspiration comes from the spirit of the times. "It was an era when stylistic individuality in New York was imperative," says Kearney. "People in that time drew from available resources and put their own personal touch on things that could be seemingly average and commonplace to others." With this spirit in mind and with a slim 2-week deadline to get out samples, Sheffield and Kearney drew from the material they were already utilizing in their workspace. There are also other aesthetic tributes to the era in the hand-pounded and finished clovers, tusks, anchors, and knives all hewn from mostly sterling silver, a little copper, and some 18-karat vermeil. "We tried to keep the plating to a minimum in an effort to combat the wear and tear that men typically inflict on their possessions," Kearney says.
Although there are both chains and rings in the collection, we were particularly smitten with a design that incorporated both, a simple chain looped through a ring and an exercise in understatement that sold us on the entire line. As Kevin told us, "Modern men seek simple accessories to set them apart. Jewelry is a perfect vessel to accomplish that and still maintain what they feel is imperative: gaining attention for attire without seeming like they're trying too hard."
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Note to readers: On November 19, Kevin Kearney will be on hand at Jake (939 North Rush Street, Chicago) to debut the Bing Bang Men's line and help guests choose pieces from 6-9 p.m. Cocktails will be served. Kearney will also be available for private appointments at Jake on Saturday, November 18.
The siblings behind Bing Bang unveil a hand-hewn line of jewelry just for guys.

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