Is Olympic torch too 'bling'?

2012 torch The torch is aluminium not gold

The Olympic torch for London 2012 has been unveiled but is it a tasteful piece of perforated, gold-coloured design or a slightly gaudy bit of "bling"? Here jewellery mogul Gerald Ratner and celebrity jeweller Jacob Arabo give their own evaluation.

London 2012's gold torch has already been likened to a "bling wastepaper bin", hotel ashtray, ice cream cone and melted-down Argos jewellery.

East London designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby say they wanted it to resemble a piece of sporting equipment rather than a trophy. They described it as ''physically light and visually light'' but their 80cm tall perforated gold creation has divided commentators.

Times columnist Carol Midgeley defended the design: "I think it's rather elegant, actually especially as it's shaped like a giant spliff."

But the Daily Telegraph asked readers to vote on whether it most resembled a torch, cheese grater, cigarette holder or wastepaper bin.

The Guardian's Esther Addley tweeted that it resembled a "piece of bent chicken wire" while a Telegraph blogger suggested Britons should be thankful the design didn't resemble a sex toy, in a reference to the 1992 Winter Olympic torch.

Gerald Ratner, founder of internet jewellers Gerald Online and formerly the boss of 1980s High Street favourite Ratners, had expected to hate it.

"But then I saw the picture and thought it was very nice, very tasteful. It looks like a piece of jewellery and reminds me of a nice design for a bracelet."

In some ways the designers were on a hiding to nothing, Ratner argues. "Creating a modern piece is difficult. Everyone likes something antique even if it's quite ugly."

Start Quote

It reminds me of the stuff I used to sell at Ratners like heavy gold chains”

End Quote Gerald Ratner

Another high profile fan is Jacob Arabo, also known as Jacob the Jeweller for his popularity among rappers and celebrities, including David Beckham, Bono and Elton John.

"It reflects a sleek and modern architectural design of the current times. It has a very aerodynamic look which is representative of athletic performance."

The use of soft, durable and lightweight aluminium alloy won praise from him as did the perforations that have led to the cheese grater jibes.

"I particularly liked the symbolism of 8,000 holes representing the runners from all around the world," Arabo says. "This is a credible detail and evokes the inspiration needed to build this iconic piece."

Some newspaper readers have complained that the torch is reminiscent of "bling" jewellery. But Arabo, who has been referred to in dozens of tracks by artists like 50 Cent, Kanye West and Jay-Z, says it hits all the right notes.

2012 torch logo This could be the basis for next year's earring of choice

"The representation of a torch with significance was accomplished here. It requires special craftsmanship to build these pieces which calls for time, knowledge and specific skill, much like the athletes who participate."

Ratner says good taste is all about context. "I agree it's bling but you're not wearing it - it's an Olympic torch."

And people who say it's over the top are missing the point, Ratner insists. If this was a trophy for the London to Brighton bike ride then he would agree that it was absurdly grand.

"But this is the Olympic Games, the greatest show on earth. There's too much blandness around anyway. Why does everything have to be muted and grey?"

Top of torch The torch is triangular to reflect the three times London will have had the games

In any case, comparing it to rappers' jewellery is unfair, Ratner says. "Rappers... wear jewellery like a throwback to the 70s. I wouldn't put the torch into that category."

With its big, brash, gold design it evokes the loadsamoney, flash '80s.

"It reminds me of the stuff I used to sell at Ratners like heavy gold chains. Today Gerald Online is much more understated. But I get the feeling the torch may be a little bit ahead of its time - I think we'll all soon be wearing heavy gold jewellery again."

What does the torch resemble to you? Send your comments using the form below.

I think it looks very elegant - a bit like one of the old fashioned cigarette holders you saw in 30s and 40s Hollywood films.

Sally Humphreys, London

I think calling the Torch a cheese grater or bling is a bit unkind, however, when they have finished with it, I can definitely do with a new oil filter and it looks like it will fit a treat

Don, Newport

It reminds me of the off cuts we used for craft at the first school I worked at. The off cuts had been the sheets of shiny material that sequins were cut from.

Kay, Gloucester

The exhaust pipe of a lorry running up the side of the cab

Philip Jagoe, UK

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

More on This Story

In today's Magazine

Features

  • June plays with a pelicanDad's menagerie

    An extraordinary childhood growing up in a zoo


  • US soldier, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), manning a machine gun onboard a Chinook helicopter over the Gardez district of Paktia province on 11 August 2014Viewpoint

    Nato's role in making the Afghan army sustainable


  • Architect's drawing of bedroomDeep dreams

    The homes where you can live under the sea


  • A snailHard to stomach?

    The IT worker who quit his job to farm snails for restaurants


  • An assortment of secret menu itemsMcSecret

    The fast food items you've never heard of


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.