Recently multiple images of a pendant featuring NFT art were shared on Instagram and Twitter creating sizable buzz for Eduardo Jaramillo aka the NFT Jeweler. The jewelry piece, an iced out iWatch display on a gold chain, showed a series of images. In one sense it was a simple concept yet it also unofficially launched NFT jewelry as a form of wearable tech.
The solid gold and diamond-studded chain are a stark contrast to the artists’ background.
“My dad’s from the smallest pueblo in Mexico and then my mom is from Tijuana and then one generation later her son’s here creating this,” he said in an interview.
It’s been a long, hard road for Eddie, as he’s known. Growing up in South Central LA, he was always the class clown, scraping by with Cs on a good day. Until he improved his grades in order to play soccer in 12th grade.
“I don’t wanna be stuck here forever in the hood,” Eddie says he realized back then. “My friends aren’t really doing anything. Everybody’s stuck here. I don’t want to get stuck…[So] I went to community college for three years in Long Beach City College and then I transferred to UC Riverside.”
Now Eddie is back home with a college degree, learning to be a jeweler and navigating an American success story powered by NFTs. His story is one of many tales of success shared by crypto artists around the world.
As the headlines reveal, cryptoart has seen huge growth this year. Every chart of cryptoart sales show a staggering rise in sales peaking in March. Celebrities of all types have tested the waters from musicians like Kings of Leon, influencers such as Paris Hilton and business leaders like Mark Cuban. Beeple’s auction of an NFT through Christie’s not only united the traditional art world and the emerging world of NFT art but also set records at $69 million.
Jaramillo is helping to open up a new stage of the mainstreaming of NFTs: wearables. The effect of NFT artists and collectors wearing their prized digital possessions in daily life and at special events promises to ignite even more public interest.
The reveal on Instagram included an NBA Top Shot moment and works by multiple artists including a collaborative NFT by famed dj Steve Aoki and artist Antoni Tudisco. Aoki soon commented on the post and Jaramillo offered to drive to Las Vegas from Los Angeles and show him the piece he calls Ethereum Block Chain.
Eddie’s initial Twitter post received almost 20,000 likes and a wide range of positive responses. At first he planned to auction the piece on Rarible. However, between the social media response and ensuing business contacts, Eddie decided to delay the auction, focus on finishing the piece and carefully decide his next steps.
NFT owners take pride in ownership of their pieces and often go to great lengths to curate and display their collections online, so it’s no surprise that a physical medium to show off their valuables would gain attention.
Wearable tech is mostly a world of screens and data sources. The one exception is the use of lightweight flexible LED screens in fashion but they do not have the display capacity for NFT images. With NFT jewelry, one can literally wear one’s NFT collection in public.
Becoming a Jeweler and Discovering NFTs
Eddie’s sister, Lydia Vasquez, was in the jewelry business before him but left to become a paralegal. She now works with U.S. immigrants but Eddie dreams of building Ivy J Jewelers with her as a family-owned business. She introduced him to his mentor, Edwin A. Chavez, who has a workshop in the Los Angeles Jewelry District:
“He’s nice enough just to teach me and I go in to his little workshop. This very very little workshop. Nothing fancy, no big store, no nothing,” Eddie said. “He’s just like an OG in the jewelry game there and he’s nice enough to take me in everyday, explain to me what to do, introduce me to his people.”
Though Eddie also has an interest in cryptocurrency that precedes the 2017 crash, his involvement with NFTs is fairly recent and began with NBA Top Shot.
“I bought a Lebron dunk for $80 and then it rose up to like $3,000. I was just so happy, I’m like ‘Ma, this could pay for like a downpayment for a house!’…So that was my first NFT experience,” he said.
Envisioning NFT Jewelry
One night, an idea came to him as he was running.
“If my Lebron dunk is worth money and my gold is worth money like why not just combine them both?”
And that’s how the idea of Ethereum Block Chain was born.
The problem then became how best to display the NFTs. He had to figure out how to put a small but high-resolution screen in a piece of jewelry. Eddie and Chavez, his mentor, thought hard about what the solution could be, and initially considered using an iPhone.
“But then we were like, maybe the iWatch can work,” Eddie said.
Eddie’s use of the iWatch as an external display screen reveals the potential for mass-produced wearables based on specific features of smartwatch technology. Google’s Wear OS indicates that lower-end solutions may not be that far off.
Building a New Business
” Down the road I wanna make these more affordable,” he said. “Obviously these are kind of expensive because it’s a solid gold chain with some diamonds. But the plan is I just want a lot of regular people to wear it, because that way, I feel like there’ll be a good opportunity for them to show their favorite NFT artist.”
But right now the focus is to improve this first version before he auctions it off. He wants to use funds from the first sale to continue growing his business. Eddie also has to consider how to manage growing interest from investors.
“There are a lot of people hitting me up,” he said. “There are people interested in investing but I have to be careful…I just went from zero to 100.”
Jewelers and hardware companies are noting the growing interest in NFT wearables. For example, NFT and digital art display companies may also apply their work to NFT wearables as indicated by Zendvibes‘ NFT Crypto Art Keychain.
As Zendvibes founder, Zen, stated in an interview, his future plans are to focus on Crypto Art display screens and the launch of NFT Casters rather than items like the keychain. But that doesn’t mean other display companies will not enter the fray.
Living the NFT Dream
In the end, Eddie won’t be the only creator supplying NFT wearables to a broad spectrum of fans. But he will be recognized as the innovator that launched the NFT wearables movement from a modest jewelry workshop in Los Angeles.
“The way I see NFTs is that it’s helping a lot of the smaller guys win,” he said. “It’s created this worldwide market and then you can check out any artist from around the world and then support them just by the click of a button. That’s literally what the Ethereum blockchain does. It just makes it so easy to access other people’s work and that’s amazing.”