Ringly is a forerunner in this dynamic new field: its geometric-cut, semi-precious gemstone rings connect to your phone via Bluetooth, causing the device to vibrate or light up when you get notifications from any of your social media apps, from Twitter to Snapchat or Instragram. Boston-based fashion illustrator Holly Nichols says: “I keep my Ringly on my index finger so when I’m sketching, I can see who’s texting or calling me (based on the color I’ve programmed the light alert to be) without having to stop what I’m doing and pick up my phone.” More calming than constantly having your phone on display, technology disguised as jewelry means wearers can stay updated without getting distracted and losing focus on the task in hand. Having tested many of the wearable tech products on the market, Linda Avey, Co-founder and CEO of We Are Curious—a platform for sharing aggregated personal data for medical research—found the smart ring by Ōura works best for her: “A few years ago, my sleep patterns had shifted and I wanted a wearable that could track it accurately and stylishly. I tried everything on the market; it wasn’t until the Ōura ring came on the scene that I knew I’d found the right device. It is beautiful, comfortable, and most importantly, it provides better quality data than others [I have tried].” It has become integrated into her life. “The first thing I do when I wake up is to check my sleep pattern and my readiness.” As well as keeping it on day and night, Avey says she even wears it in the shower.
This new sense of comfort with wearable technology is explained to me by Aleksandr Bernhard, Founder and CEO of Christophe & Co: “Adding technical functions and connectivity to a piece of jewelry completely changes the relationship from a passive one to an active one. The piece itself becomes a functional extension of the user’s body and mind.” Christophe & Co’s Armills are designed for men and can be tailored to suit the wearer’s lifestyle, providing services such as lifestyle management and access to highly exclusive member events. Although technology plays an important part in the Armills, which are designed in partnership with Italian design and engineering firm Pininfarina, aesthetics are fundamental.
The exciting prospect is that, aesthetically, wearable tech still has a long way it could go. Most smart jewelry is created by tech companies and start-ups, not by jewelers. Swarovski is one of the few traditional jewelers to have embraced this new niche by joining forces with Misfit, one of the pioneers in wearables, to create activity-tracking jewelry in the form of Swarovski-crystal-encrusted bracelets. Looking to the future, Avey says: “We’ll see sensors and monitors showing up in more of the things we wear, interact with, and live with. The trick is to make these technologies fade into the background and instead focus on how the data can point us toward better choices, leading to optimal health.” As rings, necklaces and bracelets become smart, so they become holistically intertwined with lifestyle: this is a new chapter in the history of technology, and of fashion.