5 Questions with Artist and (New) Jewelry Designer Yoko Ono

On the eve of New York Fashion Week, Japanese conceptual artist Yoko Ono unveiled two exclusive crystal key necklace designs as part of her collaboration with Swarovski Elements for fall.

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On the eve of New York Fashion Week, Japanese conceptual artist Yoko Ono unveiled two exclusive crystal key necklace designs as part of her collaboration with Swarovski Elements for fall.

The collection—designed around the theme of “unlocking the door to a better life” (her words, not ours)—includes a limited edition crystal cut ‘Key To Open The Universe’ necklace on a silver chain and a slightly more casual companion, ‘Key To Open The Forest’ pendant adorned with a tiny dangling metal key on a black cord. “Imagine a key that unlocks the door to the forest with its secrets, to the sky with its peacefulness, to the universe with its infinity, to a future with a promise for a better life,” she described.

In honor of the new collaboration, TIME caught up with Ono to talk about the inspiration behind her line and what beauty means to her.

Why call it ‘Key to Open the Universe’?
It just made sense. I like the fact that you have a key, and it is an abstract key that you can use to open little doors or open the planet or really anything. Once you have the key, you feel strong about it. It’s a very strong key.


You partnered with Swarovski for this collaboration. What’s special about crystal?
It is very strong. It is a very strong material and when it is made like this, it will not change. It contains the power of eternity.

Where does your concept of beauty come from?
I’ve always had a concept of beauty. [Everything] depends on how you look at it. Nothing is really ugly.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry someone has given to you?
A tiny, tiny diamond on a necklace that my husband [John Lennon] gave me. It was so tiny, I couldn’t believe it. He said he never had an occasion to buy a diamond necklace for anybody and this was the first time.

Who is the most beautiful woman in the world?
The most beautiful woman is all women who know what to do with themselves, and with their intelligence. They know they’re beautiful.

Ono’s collection will be available alongside two key-inspired pendants designed by Swarovski in 400 selected Swarovski stores worldwide. The limited edition “Key To Open The Universe” collection of 1,300 pieces will be sold for $350 a piece through November; her “Key To Open The Forest,” cut will sell for $90-$190. Both designs are engraved with Ono’s signature.


To Vambo Drule:

#1.  I'm pretty sure an environmentalist and peace activist cares about where her diamonds come from.

#2.  I'm not sure if prior to 1980 (when her husband was murdered) people knew about blood diamonds, therefore it might be unfair to question whether that particular diamond (that was given to her by her deceased husband) is conflict-free, and especially unfair to assume that she doesn't care where her diamonds come from based on that particular piece of jewelry.


@BeatleTravels  #1. Yoko Ono's favorite charity is Yoko Ono. I don't think she gives a tinker's damn about anything else unless it profits her in some way.

#2 If any of the diamonds her late husband (aka John Lennon) gave her were chopped up into pave, I'm sure she wouldn't sell them if she had any moral character. Instead, she sells them as diamond-encrusted key and keyhole pendants at a ridiculously inflated price, as the 'key to inner peace'. This is not 1980 anymore, she knows what's she's doing. Standing in front of an audience and assaulting them with her intolerable caterwauling.

Vambo Drule
Vambo Drule

Her diamonds will bling you eternal peace and enlightenment.

My question to Ms. Lennon: are your diamonds ethically sourced, or do you really care where they come from?


My first thought is of the religious things people wear as necklaces, and that this would be a secular version.  I also was reminded of the olden days when kids commonly wore keys to the house or the old roller skate keys.

My question to Ms. Lennon:  "What talent do you possess other than being Ms. Lennon?"


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