When the actor Aldis Hodge is not in front of the camera — notable credits include the 2016 film Hidden Figures and 2008-12 television drama series Leverage — he is hard at work with his other passion as a watch designer and collector.
Indeed, the self-proclaimed “watch movement composition theorist and novice horologist” is in the process of developing his own watch brand. But the award-winning star and owner of cult pieces that include a Daniel Roth tourbillon and Gérald Genta Octo Bi-Retro is also big on jewellery.
“I love jewellery and adornment,” he says. “Like watches, jewellery or fashion, they’re an expression of your creativity.”
Mr Hodge commissions many of his pieces, frequently feeding into the design himself. Spinels and black diamonds feature prominently, which he often pairs with silver.
“I love mixing metals and having different combinations,” he says. “It gives people uncommon shapes in the same space.”
One exception are his watches, which he allows to stand on their own. “Very rarely do I wear jewellery on the same wrist as my watch,” he says. “I don’t like to overtake a watch.”
Lapel pin, M Cohen (2017)
For the 2017 Oscars, Hodge was looking for a piece of jewellery for the red carpet and found the answer in M Cohen, a designer he had been wearing for some time. He commissioned a one-off pin, with onyx and silver jewels linked by silver and onyx chains.
“I love any excuse to get into a suit but I don’t like conforming to norms. So if I can be as avant-garde or abnormal in any space, I normally do it,” he says.
The pin was not the “obvious choice but still worked quite well”, he says, especially as he had co-designed it.
“I wasn’t trying to dress up and impress people with a fancy [piece of jewellery]. I was really happy to wear that piece and represent myself as such.”
Onyx necklace with encrusted black and white diamonds, M Cohen (2009)
Several beads on this necklace are encrusted with black and white diamonds.
Mr Hodge usually wears it as a bracelet. “I love that it’s black and reflects all that light,” he says.
Growing up as a black child actor, he adds, “I was made to feel like I should be ashamed of my colour — that I was too dark for certain roles. I had to figure out a way to love dark, to love black.
“I have to learn how to love me as much as possible, and I’m going to wear a representation of that. The darker the better.”
David Yurman silver and yellow gold Waves Skull ring (2016)
Another go-to name for Mr Hodge is the American jeweller David Yurman, whose work he likes for the simplicity of design.
“There is a roughness to some of the stones, and an added element of nature that is defined by the techniques used to shape its pieces. So you get the earthy element but also that eloquence.”
Among his favourites is a dark and textured silver skull ring embellished with carved yellow gold waves on one side. “It’s understated but flashy,” he says. “I don’t like to be too out there with a big, old nugget of a ring on my finger. But it has enough style to catch an eye without being obnoxious.”
Shark tooth necklace, Pade Vavra (2017)
Mr Hodge prefers subtle, simple jewels — or as he says, jewellery that catches rather than “punches” the eye.
Such is the style of the shark tooth necklace that he commissioned from Pade Vavra, a California-based designer who counts the singers Rihanna and Alicia Keys, and actors Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams, as fans.
Two highly polished, 50m-year-old fossilised Brazilian mako shark teeth are each set with a V of black pavé diamonds and hung on two chains: a gold one and a diamond-cut, silver snake chain with flecks of rhodium plating.
The necklace embraces an “eclectic casual” look, says Mr Hodge, adding that it pretty much works with anything, from a button-down to a T-shirt. “It will rise to the occasion because it’s subtle,” he says.
Japanese coin and watch fob necklace (2015)
Mr Hodge bought a 22ct gold watch fob on a whim in a Baton Rouge antique shop. A visit to another antique store in New Orleans yielded a pair of gold and engraved rectangular Japanese coins — something he had never seen before. He was inspired to combine his two acquisitions into a necklace.
Gold jewellery, he says, is new territory for him. “I never was a fan — I thought it was too loud. But as a watchmaker, I had to figure out how to appreciate it, because a lot of collectors like gold.”
Aldis Hodge’s latest film, ‘Clemency’, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January
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