Published April 27, 2006 In Chicago Tribune
Swarovski crystals on cell phones, iPods and BlackBerrys are so last week's news (literally: April 17, in Tempo).
So what now is the, uh, most creative application for the dazzling little crystals that designers can't seem to run out of ideas for? Jeweled cockroach brooches.
Live cockroaches, as in the giant Madagascar hissing kind.
Jared Gold, a Salt Lake City-based designer, dreamed up the idea as an "over-the-top" way to push his Glinka clothing collection, a kind of "Russian-Psychedelic-Space-Witch theme," he revealed in an online chat hosted by The Washington Post.
Gold's bugs are studded with Austrian Swarovski crystals, come with a leash set and are ready to "wear."
And his little jewels are selling.
Those wanting cockroach brooches, he said, are small-town schoolteachers, "curious little boys and the glam teenage girl. And, of course, the deeply fashion damaged," Gold wrote during the chat.
Well, a Tempo staffer couldn't help herself, so she jumped in on the online conversation with this question: How long do the bugs live with the crystals on their backs?
"They live around a year, but we're still happily counting," Gold replied.
Another chat participant asked: What about PETA?
Gold hopes to keep animal rights activists at bay with the argument that he's rescuing the critters from breeders who sell them as feed, and giving "them a life."
Other details that Gold divulged about his bling bugs:
Roach brooches come with instructions for care that includes daily water, fresh fruit and cleaning their aquarium.
With their dark coloring, cockroaches "look best on light colors."
Jewelry-quality roaches are "raised and bred in a clean environment -- intended for pet use."
Valerie Klein, who handles press inquiries for Gold's Black Chandelier stores, wouldn't reveal the "proprietary adhesion process" that keeps the crystals in place on the cockroaches' backs. But she assured us, in an e-mail message, that "the cockroaches aren't hurt."
The living jewels sell for $60 at Gold's Salt Lake City boutique or $85 if ordered online (blackchandelier.com). Roaches are shipped overnight in a box, which they can be kept in for up to four days without food or water until more hospitable accommodations (would that be a roach motel?) can be arranged.