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HANX X Motley: Intimacy and Erotic Symbolism In Jewellery

HANX X Motley: Intimacy and Erotic Symbolism In Jewellery

We’re built on a desire for honest, open sexual wellness and a love of a saucy euphemism - what could be cheekier than a twinkling penis charm?

Human beings are inherently drawn to the erotic. It’s quite literally in our DNA. From bawdy seaside postcards to groundbreaking work of Erika Lust, we’re obsessed with everything XXX - and how we choose to accessorise is no different. Jewellery and eroticism are intensely entwined: worn close to the skin, titillating totems and amusing talismans are captured in molten metal. As thoughts turn to a (COVID-safe) summer of lust, we explore the role of intimacy and erotic symbolism in jewellery design, with a little help from our friends at Motley London…



Picture this: it’s 200AD, you’re out for a stroll around what will eventually be known as Londinium and you’re particularly feeling yourself, thanks to a cheeky little number you picked up at Aurelius’ (the Matches of its time, darling). Yes, it’s a penis pendant - and it’s the hottest accessory of its time. The Romans revered the phallus as a symbol of prosperity, fertility and control over properties, and historians have found evidence of it daubed on fort walls, captured in mosaics and recreated as jewellery. However, it wasn’t all about willy-waggling. Considered the mark of the divine spirit of the phallus, Fascinus, the phallus was brandished as a protective charm against evil spirits and influences, with copper-alloy charms even found in Roman graves in the UK. The playful, protective power of the phallus still holds sway over creatives today, with famously subversive artist Tracy Emin and streetwear rebels Aries both exploring its significance and power as tokens of jewellery.

How To Wear It:

Serve subversive self-expression with Motley X Christopher Thompson Royds Silver Prince Albert Necklace and witty Coque Ring.


Lover’s Eyes

Forget the Victorian thirst for ankles, Lover’s Eye jewellery (also known as ‘eye miniatures’) was an often overlooked portal of simmering tension, romance and intimacy. Micro-portraits were all the rage in the late 1700s-early 1800s and swept the nation as gifts and memento mori to lovers lost. They were designed to be pinned to a heaving bosom (to ward off unwanted suitors - the equivalent of your BF/GF’s name in your Instagram bio?) or squirreled away under demure layers, visible to no one but their wearer.  


“It is the look that someone wants to imagine, and wants to feel as resting upon themselves.”

- Hanneke Grootenboer, Treasuring the Gaze: Intimate Vision in Late Eighteenth-Century Eye Miniatures.


For star-crossed lovers separated across great plains, the arrival of a deftly packaged parcel containing a painstaking oil paint of their lover’s unblinking gaze could be considered to be the 18th century equivalent of a sultry selfie. You can look but you will be left with a Pink Lady-esque flush to your cheeks and the unconscious bite of a trembling lip…

How To Wear It:

As we enter a post-pandemic landscape, embrace touch with Motley X Christopher Thompson Royds' Helping Hand Bracelet and What A Handful Drop Earrings.


Breasts/Female bodies

2019-2020: never has there been a more boob-centric era. From scented candles to phone cases, tattoos to cushions, the world embraced breasts more than the front cover of a nineties lad mag - and this time, the beauty was in the eye of the owner. Contrary to the shock factor Tits Tee sold in McLaren and Westwood’s iconic 1970s shop, SEX, this is about self-love, acceptance and beauty. Count in the incredible Nyome Nicholas-Williams’ campaign against Instagram’s racist, sizeist policy of censoring bodies, and the breast has become a symbol of empowerment. Go forth and press the flesh...

How To Wear It:

Throw shapes in Motley X Estelle Dévé’s playful Nude Figure Pendant Necklace and gift their Nude Figure Charm to that one friend who’s always naked. You know the one.


Euphemisms, puns and… heavy metal. Here at HANX, subverting the mundane and injecting frissons into functionality is kind of our jam. Enter Motley X Frances Wadsworth Jones Screw collection, which sees a cacophony of freshwater pearls (supposed to symbolise purity) masquerading as heirloom pieces, pierced by delicate gold and silver screws.<Insert pearl necklace joke here.> This is all about sending a message: whether it’s a ‘Screw You’ or a ‘Slow Comfortable Screw’, that’s up to you…


How To Wear It:

Slip on the Screws of Wisdom earrings or subvert prescribed symbolism and gift the ultimate pearl necklace



Discover the story behind Motley London now.

Covet Motley London’s subtle, irreverent jewellery over on their IG feed.

Find out how we, Motley and sexual self-care app Ferly screw differently right here.

Enter our ‘Screw Differently’ giveaway with Motley and Ferly here.

Slide into our DMs @hanxofficial

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