Ceremony — jewelry with heart and history
“You design your own love. We design rings to celebrate it.”
By Chelsea Sonksen
Photography by Grey & Elle
In my little hometown in Maine, there was one shop where everyone went to buy engagement rings. It had bright fluorescent lights; the air conditioner was always too cold, and the locked, glass-guarded displays were sparse and dull. I was in there once, with my mom, and I watched a man in a bulky suit unlock the display as a couple pointed to one ring after another. The woman had goosebumps on her forearms from the blowing air. The room was full of fake plants and posters of stock photography.
There was no beauty. No romance. Nothing sensual or special.
I internalized something from this. But I didn’t realize it until years later when I saw Ceremony for the first time.
It struck me that Ceremony was writing a new cultural story about what modern love could look like and how ancient traditions can inform and enhance contemporary perspectives on love and relationships.
Chelsea Nicholson and Jess Hannah, the two women behind the brand, are clear that these are not engagement rings. As they stated in 2017 when the brand launched, “You design your own love, and we design rings to celebrate it.”
Ceremony’s perspective offers a refreshing antithesis to what Maria Popova describes as the presentism bias, the faulty belief that whatever is occurring in the present moment is most important. Social media exacerbates this perception, encouraging us to focus our attention on the most recent news, rather than pulling from our vast history to find the most dynamic, most wise, most inspiring stories throughout the course of history.
I think this is why I find Ceremony’s connection to history so compelling. The company may be just over a year old, but they pull historical significance into all aspects of the brand. Take, for instance, the stories they tell on social media. They created a series called Love Looks Like through which they tell the stories of couples through history and couples of this present moment. Woven among the love stories of today are the stories of couples like Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Emilie Flöge and Gustav Klimt, reminding us that our modern cultural moment is one point on a long trajectory from deep within the past into the future that awaits.
Ceremony’s studio is itself a thing to behold. The space is vast, with tall ceilings and views of Downtown LA. Everything from the oversized art to the bentwood lamps is sophisticated and elegant. There is a copy of MoMA’s book on Matisse on the coffee table, and a few women are staging a photoshoot for Jess’ other brand, J. Hannah. Within this space there is a certain buzzing energy, as if history is happening right here, right now.