The inspiration can come from anywhere, be it an antique coin found at a flea market, a fossil discovered during travels, or a leaf found on a sidewalk.— Ilya Startsev, Co-founder of Snake Bones
For some designers, the ability to craft beautiful jewelry runs in the family. This is exactly what we saw with the team Snake Bones. The brand was started by the father Anatoly Startsev and his sons Anton and Ilya. From their continued work, the family team has made Snake Bones into an iconic brand known for quality and creativity. For this week’s Designer’s Corner we sat down with Ilya Startsev to talk about his family, brand, and the source of Snake Bones’ amazing designs.
CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR BRAND, WHAT IS SNAKE BONES’ STORY AND MEANING? HOW DID SNAKE BONES START, AND HOW IS YOUR BRAND DIFFERENT?
Snake Bones was established out of the desire to make well-crafted designer jewelry that is luxurious, while also possessing a distinctive “rock ‘n’ roll” impression. After working for many years with other jewelry brands and private clients, we decided to make our one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces available to a wider audience. We were looking for an edgy and catchy name that would represent the spirit of our vision. Snake Bones naturally came up because it referred to our signature bracelet design that was modelled on the snake vertebrae.
WE UNDERSTAND MANY FAMILY BUSINESSES ARE SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE OF THE EXCELLENT TEAM DYNAMIC. HOW DOES THE FAMILY TEAM OF ANATOLY, YOU, AND ANTON WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE SNAKE BONES INTO THE SUCCESS WE SEE TODAY?
Snake Bones’ collection was largely established on Anatoly’s existing designs, and expanded through collaboration with my brother Anton and I. Today we’re the driving force behind the Snake Bones brand. Anton is an experienced jewelry designer, having worked for many years with our father, as well as establishing a strong following. As for myself, I also have a jewelry design background, as well as experience in the fields of graphic design, branding, and e-commerce.
THAT SEEMS LIKE A VERY WELL BALANCED TEAM! WE FIND THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL THEME VERY UNIQUE AND FRESH. WE WERE WONDERING IF YOU COULD PROVIDE US WITH MORE INSIGHTS ON WHAT DEFINES “ROCK ‘N’ ROLL” FOR SNAKE BONES?
We use the term “rock ‘n’ roll” loosely. In fact, this is one of the most frequent things we hear in response to our work, so we’ve adapted it. I think people love that our pieces have a certain attitude and rebellious feel to them. The jewelry is finely crafted, but at the same time bold and unique. It makes a statement without being too pretentious.
WE THINK THAT IS VERY TRUE, WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS HAVE DESCRIBED. CAN YOU SHARE MORE ABOUT WHAT YOUR AUDIENCES ARE LIKE?
Our men’s line is popular with people who appreciate fine craftsmanship, creative designs and original interpretations of popular trends. Our pieces offer great value in terms of technical execution and high-end materials. We’re known for our bespoke service, and are very responsive to customers’ requests, whether it’s a preference for a particular tone of gold, gemstone selection, or a unique take on an existing design.
WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT PIECES AND CRAFTSMANSHIP, CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS TO THE READERS?
The inspiration can come from anywhere, be it an antique coin found at a flea market, a fossil discovered during travels, or a leaf found on a sidewalk. At other times, an existing cultural reference can trigger an idea to reinterpret a trend in a new [fresh] way. Through this original inspiration, it can grow into a plan for a one-of-a-kind piece, or an entire collection. We experiment with different approaches and materials so that the final designs will encompass a set of unique [exclusive] pieces, as well as designs that could be reproduced.
YOUR IDEAS SEEM TO BE INSPIRED BY DIFFERENT OBJECTS. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO USE OBJECTS AS A CENTRAL THEME OF YOUR DESIGNS?
From ancient times, humans decorated themselves with objects found in their environment, whether it was seashells, bones, or rocks. It can appeal to someone on a purely aesthetic level, but also tell a story to which each individual can relate to in their own way.
WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT THEMES AND DESIGNS THAT SNAKE BONES HAS CREATED, WHAT’S THE PRODUCT YOU ARE PROUDEST OF, AND WHY? ALSO, WHICH PRODUCT WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING TO PRODUCE?
Snake Bones bracelet in sterling silver, with diamond eyes in 18K gold frames, became one of our best-known designs. The bracelet’s links are modelled based on the actual snake skeleton, and the clasp is in the form of the snake’s head biting its tail. The final design is the result of many experiments, studying snake’s vertebrae and then adapting it to create an original piece that is like nothing out there [in the industry].
Our skull pendant necklace with hinged jaw and opening eyes is a good example of a challenge we took on to create a piece that is not only beautifully crafted, but also contains a touch of humor, and an element of surprise. A unique mechanism was developed that would allow for the jaw and the eyes to move at the same time. The result is a jewelry piece that grabs attention, and start conversations.
FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT IN ACCESSORIZING, IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR DESIGN YOU RECOMMEND THEM FROM SNAKE BONES BEFORE TRANSITIONING INTO A BOLDER STATEMENT PIECE LIKE THE SNAKE BONES BRACELET?
Our skull with diamond eyes cord bracelet is a well-crafted piece that works for any occasion. It can be paired with a t-shirt as well as a suit, and will add a touch of style to any outfit. Another piece is the skull bracelet with black onyx beads, which has recently become a classic for our brand. It looks and feels luxurious, and is a great starting point for anyone looking to purchase their first accessory.
LASTLY, ANY SNEAK PREVIEWS FOR ANY UPCOMING AND EXCITING DESIGNS, AND FOR SNAKE BONES IN GENERAL?
We’re constantly expanding our existing collections as well as developing new lines. Our “camo” collection will be updated with bracelets and rings. We’re also working on additional styles for chain bracelets with seamless clasps, bead bracelets, and rings. With every piece we create, we want to form a special relationship with the person wearing it. We want to tell a “story” which can be interpreted and expanded upon in a unique way for every customer.