In a glittering new twist, jewelry designs by Los Angeles-based Neil Lane are embodied within NFTs (digital artworks) initially drawn by Audrey Schilt, a co-founder with David Borish of Collab Bears, the non-fungible token (NFT) business community. Existing in the Metaverse, the Neil Lane/Collab Bears jewelry NFTs will soon be available for puchase on the Collab Bears website with cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, They can also be purchased with credit cards. As all NFTs, including jewelry-themed creations, are recorded in blockchain ledgers that purport to guarantee ownership, digitally literate folks around the world find investing in jewelry-related NFTs particularly enjoyable, easy and adventurous.
This writer caught up with Schilt and Borish via email to find out more about Collab Bears and its Neil Lane collaboration. The following interviews were conducted via email.
Kyle Roderick: Everyone from celebrity jeweler Ben Baller to the 240-year-old London jewelry house Asprey is creating jewelry NFTs. Please define Collab Bears. And when will they be available for purchase?
David Borish: Collab Bears is a collection of 10,000 2D unique randomly generated non-fungible tokens (NFTs) initially hand-drawn by the veteran fashion illustrator Audrey Schilt, who started her career with the New York-based couturier Halston and then worked at Ralph Lauren for 23 years. Upon her 2007 retirement, Audrey held the position of vice-president & creative director of the Ralph Lauren women’s collection. Collab Bears embody Audrey’s hand-drawn versions of a teddy bear. Collab Bears and Los Angeles-based jeweler Neil Lane are offering several artworks to our “early bear” community members on March 30th, and then to the public on April 1, 2022. The cost of one Collab Bear is 0.1 Ethereum. [Author’s Note: While the dollar value of Ethereum fluctuates, on the day of this article’s publication, it equaled US$2,934.22.]
Kyle Roderick: Besides owning a piece of digital art, what else happens when someone purchases a Collab Bear/Neil Lane creation?
David Borish: Owning a Collab Bear NFT will give you access to our Collab Game and more importantly, entrance into the Collab Bear DAO.
[Author’s Note: DAO stands for “decentralized autonomous organization”. A DAO is a mode of artificial intelligence powered by smart contracts and blockchain technology. DAOs are designed to be transparent, inviting everyone with an Internet connection to participate in decision making.]
Kyle Roderick: Please provide more details about the Collab Bears project with Neil Lane.
David Borish: Neil Lane will be adding 5 + of his jewelry designs to the series. Audrey will be sketching those designs on 500 of the 10,000 total pieces of generative artwork, making the Neil Lane collaboration a “rare” piece of digital art in the series. In addition to our project with Neil, we are also collaborating with creators from the worlds of fashion, fine arts, television and film.
Kyle Roderick: Audrey, are you a long-term jewelry collector? If yes, what type of jewels do you love?
Audrey Schilt: Over the years, I have collected a variety of jewels, especially vintage pieces and some Indian as well as contemporary designers. I have an original Cartier “Love” bracelet which I still wear. I’m not the Imelda Marcos of jewelry but I do have my fair share! I’m sorry I didn’t purchase Elsa Perretti cuffs and discs on a cord or her Diamonds by the Yard. I’m still thinking I’d like to own these, but I’ll probably buy NFTs instead.
Kyle Roderick: How does this Neil Lane project relate to the narrative of jewelry history? Is it one of the first such projects?
David Borish: There have been some jewelers like Ben Baller, who did an NFT drop of his jewelry designs and creating an accompanying game, but never a collaboration with another artist. Asprey, the 240-year-old heritage London jeweler, is also creating physical jewelry linked with an NFT offering.
Kyle Roderick: What type of customer/collector are you focusing on reaching?
David Borish: Collab Bears is aimed at NFT art collectors as well as new NFT collectors and jewelry lovers. Many people are looking to purchase NFTs but find the idea of getting a crypto wallet and buying and transferring Ethereum too cumbersome to attempt.
Kyle Roderick: So how can people who’d rather bypass setting up a crypto wallet and using Ethereum purchase the Neil Lane pieces?
David Borish: Our NFTs can be purchased via credit cards through Creatify
Kyle Roderick: What kind of benefits do Collab Bears purchasers receive?
David Borish: By becoming a member of our DAO, you will have access to these perks: one voting token (per each NFT you purchase), community votes on all brand decisions, private Discord Channel and invites to exclusive IRL events.
Kyle Roderick: How and why did Audrey connect with Neil Lane on this project?
David Borish: A mutual friend of Neil’s and mine introduced them after Neil saw some pieces that Audrey was creating for Collab Bears. This sparked the idea for our Neil Lane collaboration.
Kyle Roderick: Audrey, what is your favorite aspect of this project?
Audrey Schilt: My favorite aspect of this project is seeing the result of the bear art after we collaborate with each creator. Each one is like a little jewel. I guess you could say it’s a new way of collecting jewelry.