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The name “Twelve” holds a lot of meaning to Haley Peacock. She was born on the 12th, her half birthday is 12/12, the house she grew up in was number 12, and she lived at number 12 again when studying abroad in Rome, the city where she began to seriously consider starting a jewelry company. So when it came time to name her jewelry company, it felt a bit like a no-brainer.
“I see it as this number that connects me to everything,” Peacock says.
The 25-year-old designer who studied at the School of Visual Arts founded Twelve started in 2018 while she was studying abroad in Rome. Prior to that, she had taken a few fashion-related classes in school, but her jewelry-making was often limited to any free time she had and the occasional school assignment. In Rome every Sunday, the street outside Peacock’s apartment hosted a flea market where she could comb through giant bins of charms, necklace clasps, and more. She’d buy a handful for one euro each and start creating pieces for herself and her friends using a pair of nail clippers as pliers.
Five years later, Peacock’s ditched the nail clippers and graduated from scouring flea market bins to sourcing sculptors like her friend Korbyn Carleton to recreate her designs — although, she’ll still occasionally scour for the unique vintage pendant. These days, Twelve has moved from a glimmer of an idea in a Roman apartment to a successful online jewelry company selling rings, earrings, and necklaces that exude a post-apocalyptic-meets-ethereal-Gothic aura that relies on somewhat brutalist bone and teeth imagery. It boasts a substantial customer base that includes Halsey, Caroline Polachek, and Olivia Rodrigo.
[Photo by John Novotny]
Peacock long aspired to be an artist and in high school would loosely joke about becoming a jewelry designer — and though she doesn’t consider herself an especially religious person, she does believe divine intervention, or at least fate, played a role in the genesis of Twelve.
While Peacock was raised Catholic, she describes her relationship with the religion as something that never quite fit. Her soul wasn’t stirred by the texts, teachings, and psalms like the rest of her family, but what did move it was the sweeping grandiosity of the churches, the iconography, the art, and the eerie Gothicism characteristic of Catholicism.
“It touched me in a weird way that I was confused about because I didn’t really identify with the religion itself that much,” Peacock says. “I think that always sort of fascinated me.”
That fascination confused and sometimes frustrated her. She knew Catholicism wasn’t something she outright related to, but she felt compelled to explore it more. As Peacock grew up, she began looking into other avenues of spirituality — becoming increasingly intrigued by occultism. Over time, her relationship with religion overall developed into something totally personal to her.
Like many other Gen Zers, it’s something she’s come to define and practice on her own terms. It’s informed by a combination of spiritual practices and unique encounters, and it offers her a guide in life, especially when it comes to Twelve. Starting a business can prove an intimidating endeavor, but Peacock has found ample confirmation in her pursuits through various “surreal experiences” and coincidences — like when she was listening to Maggie Rogers while walking in the woods when she was staying at her parent’s house during the 2020 quarantine, only to receive a DM from the artist not too long after.
[Photo by John Novotny]
“I went through so much of my life frustrated that I didn’t know what my purpose was — knowing that I had so much I could contribute as an artist, but not knowing how to do that,” Peacock says. “Once I found my purpose, and it clicked in this way that I really couldn’t describe, [it has] further connected me to a force outside of myself. Outside of what I can really even comprehend […] I feel like some force has got my back.”
That personal relationship with spirituality is something Peacock strives to capture in her designs and the marketing for Twelve. Though she states her inspirations for the company come from a variety of sources, many of the pieces aim to capture some of the elements of Catholicism, occultism, and other forms of worship that have inspired and resonated with her — crosses appear frequently in her collections, a timeless nod to Christianity, as well as bones and teeth from occultism.
Peacock likens what she wants to accomplish with her jewelry to the work of revered British fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood. Westwood was the reason Peacock started loving fashion in the first place, and her approach is something Peacock seeks to emulate in her own work.
“The way that she flawlessly intertwined her personal beliefs into what she made and who she was as a person is the goal and all I want to do,” Peacock says.
And it was important to Peacock that jewelry be the vehicle for that. To some, jewelry might feel like an afterthought, but Peacock sees it as so much more. She started wearing lots of rings in high school after people would make fun of her large hands and she wanted to hide them, while earrings were used to distract people from her face.
“I found so much comfort in [wearing jewelry] and that allowed me to feel a bit safer,” Peacock says. “That gave me the confidence to be stronger and really fall into this.”
[Photo by John Novotny]
But more than her own personal connection with it, Peacock believes jewelry as a whole is “criminally misinterpreted” and seen as a luxury good that’s unattainable to many. Peacock, on the other hand, views jewelry as almost sacred. Unlike an article of clothing, Peacock points out that you can wear a piece of jewelry every day, passing it down from generation to generation. Whether it’s rosary beads or a family ring, to Peacock, jewelry is timeless — both figuratively and literally.
“Jewelry has been worn and has been sacred since the beginning of times,” Peacock says. “[It] is just so much more than just a material possession and it can have so many different meanings.”
In a way, she hopes her own pieces hold a similar significance for people. That maybe, in wearing them, others might also start down the path of figuring out their place in the world and their own relationship with spirituality that she had.
“The first step to [finding your spirituality is] I really think you have to start with finding yourself. I think the easiest way to experiment with who you really are is freedom of expression,” Peacock says. “Creating statement pieces is my goal because it’s as simple as wearing a white T-shirt and jeans — but if you have a statement necklace on, it transforms the outfit.”
And it’s just that little ounce of something distinct like a tooth necklace or a ring made using a lock that Peacock hopes could snowball into a greater discovery for someone.