Craftsmanship is for many the ultimate feature of an exclusive and luxury piece. It is used in fashion, interior design and also jewelry. Luxury Safes finds the arts and crafts fascinating in any field, however today we will focus on the greatness of handcrafted jewelry, the kind that tells a story, has a unique technique and is singular.
At Paris Haute Couture Week in July, luxury brand Chanel unveiled Coromandel, a high-jewellery collection whose Fleur de Laque line features petals fashioned from mother-of-pearl inlay set against a backdrop of black lacquer and diamonds. Piaget’s Sunlight Escape collection includes one-of-a-kind earrings and cuffs embellished with scintillating flashes of colourful straw, wood and feather marquetry – the latter developed in collaboration with feather artist Nelly Saunier.
Jeweller Silvia Furmanovich’s introduction to marquetry came via artisans who specialise in making large screens from salvaged wood in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Furmanovich challenged the artisans to translate their skills to the minute scale required by jewellery. The resulting technique has become a brand signature, applied to designs ranging from witty trompe l’oeil wooden gemstones to dainty figurative scenes such as those depicted on a pair of red Marquetry Bird Ball earrings.
Ancient tradition of a different nature can be found in Venyx’s Elementa collection, which includes three pendants – Moonscape, Earthscape (both £7,440) and Sunscape (£6,000), each showing a different landscape realised through intarsia. “Originally a form of wood inlaying, this ancient method was used in furniture,” says founder Eugenie Niarchos.
Marla Aaron, meanwhile, looked to Native American inlay work for inspiration for her Inlay series – a range of locking jewellery, some of which features as many as 64 assorted stones. She soon learnt that intuition is as important as planning. “Initially we would produce a computer-generated ‘map’ for the stonecutter showing the precise size and location of each stone. I only realised after we had made several pieces that the maps were sitting pristinely in a corner far away from where he was working. It was then that he told me that he worked by feel and sight. So these pieces are at once modern but also deeply ancient in how they come to exist.”
In Portugal, an ancient technique called filigree is often used in luxury jewelry and it consists on delicate metalworking usually with silver or gold in tiny beads or twisted threads. Those threads are put together creating a delicate piece, like the image above which portrays the famous “Coração de Viana”, a portuguese iconic piece.