"It's really wonderful when you hear about these charms, where men, not unlike rappers today, believe in them. Many people really believe in lucky charms.
"I really think that history repeats itself. You know, right after the Depression, people couldn't really afford the diamonds, so that's when plastic charms started. But then, after World War II, with Mamie Eisenhower, she started thinking it was good to have charms. After 9/11 people started to bring out the charms again."
"What's the difference between a charm and an amulet?"
"You know, it's interesting. There are talismans, okay? I call them all the same -- charms, amulets, talismans. I consider them the same. A perfect example was, I was at Diane Von Furstenberg's or some other book party, and I said, 'I tried really hard to get you in my book because you just did this big thing with Stern -- Stern, they're these jewelry designer people -- and I was aware that you had these charms.' And she says to me, 'I call them talismans.' And they were just hanging off her.
"But I think amulets are like bodyguards almost. I think the common word, in a way, is a lucky charm. Because the amulet is protective."
"Are jewelers now making a lot of charms?"
"Absolutely. Yes. Marc Jacobs was one of the first that just started to do it. It was a big sell-out. And then I guess about a year later, because there was more money, Louis Vuitton started to do it, and they had of course big-deal things. With Sarah Jessica Parker last year they had a big party. Gucci just came out with the best too. They didn't have charms before. They were one of the last. And, like, all the designers, like I just said Diane von Furstenberg, and not to mention, you know, all this bling stuff with Jacob the Jeweler. And now also, Betsey Johnson. She's doing a charm line."
"How did you get interested in charms?"
"Well, it's my mother. She gave me back my charm bracelet, which I totally forgot about. It must be three years ago. I started to wear it. When I started to wear it, people would say to me at parties, 'Oh, what's this?' or whatever, it's like a big conversation piece. 'When did you get that, and when did you get this?'
"Being a photographer, I did a book before, with Cindy Crawford, but it wasn't really my book. She hired me. I always wanted to do my book but, like, 'hello?' Everything has been done before. I thought, 'I don't think this has been done.' And it hadn't.
"I started a file. I was very busy with my advertising career. I thought, 'Okay, this is going to happen eventually.' There
wasn't that much out there. I started looking at Tiffany's. About six months later, my puppy went in a store, and he's flirting with this woman who's a lot taller and bigger than I am, and I look up and I say, 'I know you.'
"She said, 'It's Ki Hackney.' I said, 'Ki? Ki, you're not going to believe this -- I've been thinking about you.' We hadn't seen each other in years. Her book People and Pearls had just come out about a year before we ran into each other, in late 2000. I said, 'I have this idea for a project, and I thought you might be good for it.'
"She said, 'What is it, what is it?' I said, 'No, no, no. Wait. This is really special. I haven't seen you in years. We've gotta sit down and talk about this.' And she said, 'This is good timing because I'm in between projects.' So we got together. And she loved it, and six months later, I still
didn't have a proposal or anything, we said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're going to do this.'
"Her agent was having lunch with someone from Abrams, an editor, and she told her about this project, and she says, 'Oh my God, I want that book.' I was like, 'Uh oh, we don't even have a proposal yet.' So that was really the catalyst. That was, like, 'Okay, we have to be serious here.' That's how it came about.
"We did a proposal and I started with the dog, whatever was available, and a little girl with my bracelet in the sun. That's what I'm really known for -- photographing children. They loved it at Abrams, and then we just plugged away for a year and a half.
"And you know what the hardest part was? Because now, it's like I have people coming up to me saying, 'I wish I had been in the book.' I had to think of everybody that I knew or every time I went out, I would just ask everybody, 'Do you know anybody who has a charm bracelet?' This kind of thing. People would say, 'This or that, or my mother's.' And it just became a thing where everybody wanted to tell their story. Or they were thrilled to death to get them out of the boxes, they hadn't seen them in such a long time."
"I bet you did a lot of polishing."
"Oh, yeah, we had the cloths there. Definitely."
"Is it difficult to photograph jewelry?"
"Some are, some aren't. I really didn't find them hard. I didn't want it to look like a catalog, that's for sure. My photography style is very whimsical.
"These people would just walk in, and they would leave them; some of them wouldn't leave them. If they had Tiffany's or Cartier's or Jacob the Jeweler's, they would come with their security guards, because some of the bracelets are worth over $400,000.
"I would just have to think: 'What am I going to do on the spur of the moment?' I had that pressure that I had to do this fast. I was inspired. It's like Betsey Johnson came in, and I put on those red lips, looking at her, and I thought, 'You know, she's very surreal,' and I thought, 'Let's do it very dolly-like.' So that was kind of fun. And that was pressure on me. That part was hard. But when it worked, bingo, it was so much fun."