While clothing styles seem to change from week to week, and makeup trends come and go depending on the decade and season, it seems like heirloom-style jewelry will always be in. We’re talking about the pieces that have been passed down from generation to generation, or the ones that have just been manufactured to look that way: heavy gold brooches and ruby-encrusted rings that are just effortlessly classy. But what happens if the actual sparkle from those gems disappears, or if the physical weight of the metal chains and bands was replaced with something a lot less heavy?


Industrial design studio Mike & Maaike (helmed by Mike Simonian and Maaike Evers) put this idea to the test with their “Stolen Jewels” collection back in 2007. The idea behind the project was to Google around in search of the world’s most valuable and oft-stolen jewelry, so that the designers could download a low-res pixelated image of the baubles, which was then transferred to leather and cut out to be made wearable.


Mike & Maaike stated that the conclusion was that with the “expense and intricacy of the jewels stripped away, their essence and visual intensity are extracted,” showing that nothing can dull the sparkle of famous gems such as Daisy Fellowes’ Tutti Frutti necklace by Cartier or S&M Kaufman’s Great Chrysanthemum Diamond. You can actually purchase these pixelated pieces for around $400 each, but if your tastes and budget run a little more casual than that, there’s plenty of jewelry with similar aesthetics to be found online. Check out these “kawaii” designs made from perler beads, or this shop full of adorable earrings inspired by 8-bit video games.


While tracking down widely available accessories that blend truly classic designs with a pixel twist might be difficult for now, maybe conceptual collections like Mike & Maaike’s Stolen Jewels will inspire other designers to try the look out themselves.

Would you wear pixelated jewelry?

Photos via Mike & Maaike