Wendy Brandes Swear Rings vs. Topshop Punctuation Rings

UPDATE 5/1/2012: Topshop did the right thing and removed the copycat Punctuation rings from sale.  Kudos to Wendy for handling this professionally and calmly… and kudos to everyone who rallied together to show their support for Wendy!

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Wendy Brandes Jewelry.

Wendy’s pieces always top my “most-wanted” list and for good reason.  The craftsmanship and quality arewithout failsuperb.  It doesn’t matter if the piece costs thousands, or if it’s something from her more affordable “WendyB” line, it’s always beautifully made.

Me and my swear rings!

My first purchase from Wendy’s line was her swear ring set ($380). I purchased these lovelies back in 2010 and they are f#@!-ing amazing.  Seriously.  If you want to make a statement with your jewelry this is the way to go. Anyone who catches a glimpse of your fingers will stop to ask you about them. A complete stranger may even ambush you in a  public restroom to get the deets on these rings (yes, it happened).

These rings are definite statement pieces… so we really shouldn’t be surprised that Topshop has come out with a disturbingly similar set of their own, right?

Freedom at Topshop's version of the Swear Rings

These rings ($28) are the latest offering from Freedom at Topshop, a line which claims to be “always one-step-ahead of the trends and updated with about 400 new pieces each month.”  Clearly, they are more affordable than Wendy’s rings, but I am sure you get what you pay for in each case.

Perhaps to distance themselves from Wendy’s swear rings, Topshop calls these “punctuation rings”. According to freedictionary.com:

Punctuation: 1. (Linguistics) the use of symbols not belonging to the alphabet of a writing system to indicate aspects of the intonation and meaning not otherwise conveyed in the written language.

That means the letter “F” is not a form of punctuation!  That’s OK, though… I can understand how vocabulary may not be a top priority when you are under pressure to come up with 400 new designs a month… that’s 4,800 pieces a year!  Imagine how difficult it must be to come up with that many original designs.

Now, Wendy herself addressed this topic and admits that word and letter jewelry, including the 4-letter-word type, has been around for ages.  Nevertheless, Wendy admits that she finds the execution of this particular idea a bit more similar to hers than she would like.

As do I.

In my opinion, there are too many similarities between the Freedom at Topshop punctuation rings and Wendy’s swear rings for this to be a coincidence.  A simple google search of “buy swear rings” leads right to Wendy’s site, so anyone researching these types of rings would easily find her version, and that could very well be what happened here.  It’s pretty clear that Freedom at Topshop is also heavily “inspired” by Jennifer Fisher Jewelry and Made Her Think, among others, and now they have added Wendy Brandes to the mix.

But the way I see it, these rings are a poor imitation of the real thing: Wendy’s rings.

What I don’t understand is why a company the size of Topshop doesn’t reach out to the original designers, like Wendy, and ask to collaborate with them?  Wendy Brandes Jewelry is a small business which means some of her designs can be quite pricey because of the cost of materials and manuafacturing.  I know Wendy would love to offer more affordable versions of her designs to the public, so why steal her design? Why not work with her instead?

I know Topshop isn’t the first fast-fashion company to lift the designs of others and mass produce them, but that doesn’t make this right.

What are your feelings on this issue?

Do you support what these companies are doing or do you stand behind the original designers?

Or is your stance somewhere in the middle?

{ 30 comments… add one }

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  • Marissa May 15, 2012, 1:51 PM

    Oh my god! I know I’m super late on the uptake with this one, but I’m so glad to hear Top Shop took the rings off the shelves. Wendy is such a wonderful lady, and it sucks that she was taken advantage of like this.

  • blue roses May 14, 2012, 5:46 PM

    it is one thing when franchised, manufactured, broadly distributed names are emulated, but not exactly copied, as they are setting trends and pushing the direction of the rest of the industry…. it is a cascade…. BUT so glad to see people rally and do the right thing when something is exactly copied, especially when it is coming from a smaller designer who specializes in quality goods. thank you for sharing and promoting creativity and productivity!

  • Arlene May 14, 2012, 4:22 AM

    Wow very beautiful. Where can I buy online this ring?

  • Jamillah May 10, 2012, 12:12 PM

    gawsh, the fast fashion retailers are flipping notorious for doing these kinds of things. i’m glad so many came to support wendy and got them to take her rings down.

  • Kim Gordon May 8, 2012, 8:50 AM

    Oh my goodness… visiting from the twitter chat last night and see this as your first post! How on topic… guess plagiarism and copying is everywhere and at all levels. Seems sometimes it is by accident and unintentional, and sometimes outright blatant. But to answer your question, I absolutely stand behind the original designer. I worked with a handbag designer and saw his designs being stolen all the time. As a young designer he couldn’t afford to take a stand. The internet has allowed young designers to have a voice, a collective voice, and that has made such a difference. If large companies would work with designers, it would be a win/win/win for company, designer, consumer!

  • A Brit Greek May 6, 2012, 5:20 AM

    Interesting post B, I think would be amazing if a Global high street retailer such as Tophop would collaborate with designers such as Wendy. Besides her rings are waaay more gorgeous than Topshops.
    I’m also not sure that every one else (general public) would have known that Topshop had copied Wendy’s ring had it not been brought up and I’m sure that a lot of high street brands are doing exactly that (copying from Etsy etc) and making a healthy profit.

    I’d love to see Wendy collab with ASOS – that would be a matchmade in heaven, or at least for us to see her goods on their ‘Jewellery and Watches’ section -since they only sell ‘Show Stopping pieces’! I don’t know anyone directly in the accesories department currently, but I think their (buyers) are a pretty friendly bunch of peeps!


  • Constance May 5, 2012, 11:43 PM

    These rings are awesome!


  • Cindy Chou May 5, 2012, 6:50 PM

    LOL I LOVE these!! 😀 Topshop is my fave shop, though a little out of my budget ( i like to browse and dream of richness lol) but I agree, they have the ability to collab with other designers if they wish, but I think they do this to get a bigger profit on the products. Sucks for Wendy’s :/ but those swear rings are hilarious! I love them! (:

    Cindy C.

  • Celia Aranda May 3, 2012, 2:47 PM

    Wow this post is so original! These rings are really amazing 😀


  • Paula Phillips May 3, 2012, 3:29 AM

    Oh I thought the rings we’re connected with each other because what I often see are rings like that but are actually connected together. I’d love to have a ring that says ‘love’. Anyway, your ring is totally awesome. 🙂

  • Floortje May 2, 2012, 4:01 PM

    I really like your blog dear!
    Keep posting!

  • Joanne Faith May 2, 2012, 4:39 AM

    I was pleasantly surprised to see TopShop recalled the rings… 🙂

  • GRIT & GLAMOUR May 1, 2012, 7:50 PM

    This is the perfect, hits-close-to-home example of why buying designer knockoffs is wrong. In the past, I didn’t think much of it, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I’d rather carry a no-name bag than a knockoff. If I can’t afford the “real” thing, I don’t want a knockoff—when we buy knockoffs, the rightful talent isn’t getting their due exposure or compensation. And you know what? You ALWAYS get what you pay for. Knockoffs fall apart. Better to save and get the real thing and have it forever.

    This is the first time I’ve ever actually personally known a designer of material goods whose very unique, and highly identifiable designs were knocked off. NOT GOOD!!! I’m so glad Wendy, in her snarky-but-dead-serious way, called Topshop on its deed. And I’m even more glad Topshop had the presence of mind and a good attorney to tell the company to back it out, pronto.

    And B, as if you haven’t had enough after last week, you’re still fighting the good fight. Love you for it too. I’ll always stand up with you—and Wendy—with our WendyB swear-ring-bedecked hands raised up. When
    I finally order those rings, of course. 😉

  • WendyB May 1, 2012, 6:42 PM

    Thank you again for the original post AND the update!

  • Athena May 1, 2012, 7:52 AM

    These rings is really beautiful, I love the design of the creation and have a very unique style…

  • Sarah May 1, 2012, 6:35 AM

    I agree that are much too similar to be a coincidence, but it’s the same with many brands now they do like to copy each other – purely just for sales/competitior reasons.

    I do think they should try to collaborate with the original designers more – however if that is not possible they would just do it anyway. Especially when it comes to throw away fashion trends.

    • WendyB May 1, 2012, 7:32 PM

      No one throws MY designs away! 😉

  • Terri April 30, 2012, 10:36 PM

    I support “intellectual property” in ALL forms, regardless of whether it is protected by current law or not. Wendy’s rings are far better looking than Topshop’s version. Can’t imagine anyone chasing you down to find where you bought the knockoffs.

  • Cameron April 30, 2012, 8:03 PM

    Not only would I rather have the real thing, but I would also rather sell the real thing, figuratively and literally. Which one would be more impressive on your finger: A $300 original made by an original out of quality materials and will always stand out, or a $28 clone made by some sweatshop near Foxconn that will be forgotten about in three months when the first ring breaks?

    Now, if Topshop wants to do an about-face and throw their massive support behind Wendy — and so long as they don’t ruin her good name by doing so — then I’d buy her less expensive pieces from Topshop, but only because I’m supporting Wendy, not some chain that once had protestors superglue themselves to their shop windows due to sketchy tax loophole-usage issues on the part of the founder and his wife.

    TL;DR: My loyalty is to Wendy, not fast fashion.

  • WendyB April 30, 2012, 4:05 PM

    Thanks so much for this — I would love to collaborate with a company like this to make some affordable pieces. That to me is the solution. I think a lot of designers would be happy to work with the retailers like that. Hell, if Lagerfeld and Versace can do it …. Am I right?

    • Bella Q May 1, 2012, 1:24 PM

      Quality is not only found in Wendy Brandes work, but in her attitude and class, and apparently in her wide cache of supporters. Quality the whole way. Great post- B. Per usual.