he approach taken by Oktaaf’s founders is totally new in the field of jewellery. The brand was born on the internet, where the two founders met two years ago during the pandemic. Ainoa Casullas Corres is a Spanish jewellery designer, and Karel de Beule is a Belgian digital entrepreneur.
After being discovered by author and historian Vivienne Becker (read here interview here), the duo exhibited their creations for the first time at GemGenève in April 2022. “Narrative is at the heart of our jewellery,” explains Karel de Beule. “I wanted to create a jewellery brand, I connected with Ainoa and we started to exchange our visions of jewellery. It often comes down to stones and precious metals. We decided to create a brand where, instead of gems, we would use a historical object to tell a story.”
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So they came up with the idea of replacing the traditional centre stone with reproductions of 7,000-year-old Mesopotamian glyph seals, integrating them into the heart of a contemporary ring or pendant. They named this piece “Hashtag” because the seals, created by humans, were used as a signature, to claim ownership of an object. The jewellery becomes both an anthropological object and a symbol of our modernity. And what’s more, it’s stunning. “The final piece must reflect the story we want to tell. I always start with something that has a meaning and a past. From a creative point of view, this limitation is interesting,” explains Ainoa Casullas Corres.
They came up with the idea of replacing the traditional centre stone with reproductions of 7,000-year-old Mesopotamian glyph seals, integrating them into the heart of a contemporary ring or pendant.
The duo has acquired numerous artefacts, around which they have created jewellery that can incorporate anything from a Roman glass intaglio representing the head of a cherub to the bone of a mammoth, or screws from the Apollo space missions. This approach requires an effort of understanding on the part of the client, or the observer, and the ability to place the piece in a wider context. An Oktaaf jewel is not simply an ornament, even if the talents of Ainoa Casullas Corres make it an object of beauty. These creations encourage reflection on our place in history and in the face of modernity. They are emblems of a timeless – if not eternal – humanity.
One of the most astonishing objects in the entire collection is undoubtedly a pair of cufflinks created with the help of artificial intelligence.
One of the most astonishing objects in the entire collection is undoubtedly a pair of cufflinks created with the help of artificial intelligence. “The titanium screws are from one of Apollo rockets and were made in the 1970s,” explains Karel de Beule. “Of all the objects we bought, they were the most expensive. We wanted to create a piece of jewellery that spoke of the evolution of technology. We had the film 2001: A Space Odyssey in mind. So we called in a Russian artificial intelligence research laboratory and sent them images from the film, the ones that inspired us. We came up with a shape and a final interpretation. This resulted in two pairs of cufflinks: for one, we used mammoth bone attached to the 1970s screws; for the other, we used a block of meteorite reminiscent of the monolith in the film. It took over a year. This is the first time a piece of jewellery has been created by artificial intelligence!” Have precious stones been replaced by precious stories? For Oktaaf, they certainly have.