Jewelry and tattoos are two of the most ancient and universal forms of human expression. They’re also popular adornments in Los Angeles, where the entertainment industry, art scene and multi-cultural melting pot co-create some of the world’s most influential jewelry and tattoo trends. Now, Los Angeles jewelry designer Rick Rose and renowned tattoo artist Dr. Woo, a.k.a. “Woo”, are joining forces on a new jewelry venture. Debuting on August 31, 2022, their brand is called Crescent Heights Hardware Lab, and it’s sold exclusively online at www.roseark.com
As Rose explained in a telephone interview, “Our collaboration came about because I’ve been getting tattooed by Woo for years. His graphically distinctive art is accomplished by using very thin needles to ink detailed and delicate designs. His star designs and geometric circles are alive with broken lines and graceful spaces.” What’s more, Woo also wears and collects jewelry and has worked in the high fashion realm, having created designs for Sacai Creative Director Chitose Abe, amongst others. “Because Woo understands so much about human anatomy, tattoo designs and jewelry,” Rose related, “we’ve always felt a mutual synergy, and for these reasons I find it refreshing to work with him.”
The duos’ first piece is an 18-karat yellow gold and 18-karat white gold chain link bracelet which features links that are formatted four sides by two sides. “The links in our 4 by 2 bracelet are very architectural,” Rose explained, “with lots of angles. The two-tone nature of the gold helps accentuate the design of the links. On just one of the links, there is a two-point diamond that is something of a secret, as it’s only seen by other people when the link catches the light at the right moment.” While the bracelet features a bar and toggle clasp, the shapes of these elements are based on Woo’s highly graphic star tattoo design. “We are presenting this bracelet in a limited edition of 50 pieces,” Rose noted. (After wrist-testing the bracelet prototype while on the job, Woo knew that the bracelet’s ergonomic value and aesthetic appeal merited a production run. The bracelets are made by master artisans in a downtown Los Angeles atelier.) They are available on the Roseark website via special order.
“Our next piece contains another Dr. Woo signature: it’s a necklace featuring an 18-karat gold spider pendant on an 18-karat gold chain,” Rose said. “It will be available during the holiday season. I’m really enjoying working with Woo,” Rose continued, “as he’s got a storehouse of visual culture in his mind. He is constantly visiting museums and galleries, so his image bank and understanding of anatomy all enrich his constantly expanding vision.”
The co-founder of style-setting West Hollywood jewelry boutique Roseark, Rose has been designing jewelry since 2008 and holds two U.S. patents for ingenious ring designs. In other words, he is an inventor contributing original forms and concepts to the narrative of jewelry history. Before Woo opened his studio in Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel, he perfected his art at the legendary Shamrock Social Club tattoo parlor on Sunset Boulevard. Having inked everyone from soccer great David Beckham to pop musicians Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus to actor Cara Delevingne and the model Bella Hadid, Woo is contributing his aesthetic, his style; his vision to the history of tattooing.
This union between two innovators is another reason why the Crescent Heights Hardware Lab is a promising collaboration. It will be interesting to see how jewelry lovers and tattoo enthusiasts respond as Rose and Woo elaborate upon the ancient art forms of jewelry and tattooing.
Tattooing may have its origins in first aid: plant sap, clay and tree resins were often rubbed into wounds to stop bleeding and speed recovery. The applied materials often produced dark scars on the skin, and these markings lived on the body to tell stories about battles, animal hunts, near death experiences; survival. In any event, ritual tattooing is believed to date back to the Paleolithic era (2.5 million B.C. to 10,000 B.C.), when tattoos were presumably made with stone and bone tools. Jewelry, on the other hand, is thought to be approximately 100,000 to 120,000 years old. People living on Israel’s coastline strung ocher-painted seashells on flax string 120,000 years ago, according to a study in which archaeologists documented microscopic traces of wear inside naturally occurring holes in the shells. This discovery may also point to the time when people invented string, along with the invention of fishing nets and clothing.
Meanwhile here in 2022, Rose says, “Both jewelry and tattoos adorn the body and tell stories on the body. Woo and I plan to keep on designing and making innovative jewelry that tells stories while adorning people.”