Fiona Byrne | US Editor At Large | 1,305 day ago

Meet The Woman Who’s Turned Emojis Into Jewellery

The Debrief: Jewellery you’ll want to start saving up for, stat…

‘I didn’t want to go into costume jewellery because I just don’t think it lasts as long and I don’t think people value it as much,’ Alison Chemla tells The Debrief from her New York City studio when we grill her on where the idea to incorporate emojis into gold necklaces. (Genius, right?)

So instead, Chemla began Alison Lou Jewels as a fine jewellery line but with a super-fun sensibility. Her debut collection in late 2012 focused smiley-face emoji pendants featuring ruby eyes to monkey emoji in real gold. AKA, stuff that is ‘fine’ enough to get us hooked-slash-obsessed.


Chemla argues that whilst that makes an Alison Lou piece expensive, it’s more special picking up a piece than say, wandering into Claire’s and picking up a few bangles. And despite the fact that stud earrings start at £260 but sad face emojis necklaces go for a sad-face-inducing £2,000 - we're a little bit in love. As is Emma Roberts who got gifted one recently. (Lucky cow).


‘Fine jewellery is obviously a lot more expensive, but to me it’s a lot more of an investment, because I’m buying gold and I’m buying stones and that’s a forever investment,’ she says. ‘So I can always, god forbid, melt it if I don’t sell it. I melted a bunch of my first pieces to make new ones, actually.’

Having Girls actress Jemima Kirke as the face of the line upon launching was a major coup for Chemla. But she says it made sense to her - the pair have actually been friends since childhood and Kirke was simply returning a favor. ‘She’s an old family friend. I’ve known her since I was five years old. Our mothers are really good friends. She was actually painting me at the time, because she’s a painter, and I was sitting there and I was like ‘would you do ME and favor? Would you be willing to be in my look book?’ and she was like, ‘of course’. It was great. She’s beautiful.’


For her second collection New York socialite Annabelle Dexter-Jones makes an appearance alongside a monkey, a duck, a snake and a cockatoo. The sister of Mark, Charlotte and Samantha Ronson, Dexter-Jones is also one of Chemla’s best friends: ‘I couldn’t think of a better model to use than Jemima so I used real animals and Annabelle Dexter-Jones for one shot.’

The question remains though: do people who buy real diamonds want emoji jewellery? It turns out, yes, yes they do. ‘Surprisingly, a huge part of my clientele is older women. I think because the quality is so high, and from afar my ‘Screw U’ bangle for example doesn’t really look like ‘Screw U’, it just looks like a stacking bangle. And my faces just look like pendants from afar, too’.


And what’s next from Alison Lou Jewellery? ‘I’m going to do a tiny capsule collection for the summer,’ Chemla reveals, and says she will even eventually do a more affordable, diffusion line. ‘Eventually, yes, I will knock myself off but I’m not exactly sure when. I still feel like I have to do my emoji and everything in fine jewellery for now, but at some point I will start going lower.’ Which is why we’ll be watching.

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