Sex and design go hand-in-hand for Betony Vernon. She is an American author and sexual anthropologist, who is a pioneering of a rare art form: luxury erotic jewellery. Through her sensual pieces, Vernon wishes to empower men and women and obliterate the ‘pleasure taboo’. The female orgasm is central to her work; she believes that sex should be enjoyed and it is the vital glue holding any long-term relationship together—this is an age of exploration, gone is the mantra: ‘lie back and think of England.’
Each piece of jewellery has an intriguing duality: an alluring aesthetic and a sensual purpose. Take the ‘Veneration Peacock Tickler’ for example: it is a delicate and beautiful ‘erotic tickling tool’, which is hand-crafted from soft peacock feathers. Another slightly less subtle piece is the ‘Elegant Spanker’. With its solid mahogany wood and sterling silver hand, Vernon attempts to rid erotica of its kitsch stereotype—one that has largely been created thanks to that sordid novel, 50 shades of Grey.
The Veneration Peacock Tickler The Elegant Spanker
By crafting each piece with meticulous precision and from 18-carat gold or sterling silver, she elevates erotica to an opulent art form. As Vernon does not follow the influence of contemporary fashion, each item is completely unique. Alongside her provocative jewellery, Vernon teaches classes that involve ‘sexual well-being’ and seminars to improve one’s ‘sexual skills’. Her workshops inspire self-esteem and explore the issues of body acceptance—and of course the pleasures of sex.
In order to spread awareness of her sexual philosophy, in 2013 she published The Boudoir Bible – The Uninhibited Sex Guide for Today. Alongside Francois Berthoud’s delicate illustrations, Vernon guides the reader through a new sexual universe with daring topics such as bondage, role-play and sex toys.
Vernon ultimately wants to get people talking about sex. She wishes to educate and inspire exploration so that the stigma surrounding pleasure is well and truly spanked.