HOLDING YOUR AWE IN THEIR CLAWS : A CROW BROOCH BY ILGIZ

THE ART OF JEWELRY BEYOND DESIGN AND PERFECTION
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Illustration by Inkycubans

What makes art Art?

Resistance to mass production? An emotional trigger? Originality? The artist’s identity?

Sometimes I catch myself thinking: if some of the talented artists had not become jewelry designers, what would they be doing instead? They would still be talented, successful and probably happy. The only ones to lose would be us—their admirers, followers and collectors who would miss out on exquisite pieces of this extraordinary, ancient and ever modern art.

With its laconic outline, absence of redundant, decorative details, classic, contrasting colors, elaborate composition of simple geometric shapes, and a strong, architectural silhouette that is both clean and clear, this enameled brooch—the dramatic and dynamic portrayal of a black and a white crow, holding a ruby-red stone in its talons—is not exactly typical for Ilgiz. Yet, it is a splendid reflection of all that he stands for: an artistic predilection for Art Nouveau, immaculate mastery of enameling, and the global idea behind art, plus the delicate conglomerate of a creator’s idea and the beholder’s profound emotional response.

The pieces by Ilgiz Fazulzyanov, a miracle worker from Tatarstan, a two-time winner—Champion of the Champions—of the International Jewellery Design Excellence Awards, are admired by art aficionados and craved by both private collectors and gallerists in Russia and around the globe.

No wonder.

The chance of finding such an ingenious expert in enameling is remote, and yet, the artist did not study jewelry professionally: his knowledge and mastery were earned independently, through passion and ambition, perfectionism and perseverance, by trial and error.

Aiming to surpass himself with every new piece, he studied many different enameling techniques—Japanese, French, English, Russian—and developed his own signature, unique methods, including, but not limited to, the firing of enamel at 950℃, rather than the ‘classic’ 700–800℃, which allows him to achieve a total fusion of glass with the golden surface, as well as a one-millimeter-thick plique-à-jour enamel.

Ilgiz believes that the art of jewelry stands at the confluence of all art forms and technologies. A jeweler must know the basics of drawing, painting, sculpture, perspective, architecture, chemistry, physics and mathematics. He must not be afraid to dirty his hands. He needs to make the metal submit to his rules—and be able to put it all together – to create the ultimate masterpiece.

Aiming at perfection, he can redo a piece of jewelry again and again until he gets the desired effect: color gradations and nuances in the enameled petals of a flower or the feathers of a crow’s wings, which correspond both to the reality and to his creative idea.

Ilgiz’s pieces are so immaculate that they do not have a flip side: the back of every pair of earrings, necklace, brooch or ring is on a par with the front side.

Besides, Ilgiz rarely works ‘around the stone’; rather, he builds the stones, whether precious or not, around the idea to achieve the maximum embodiment of his brainchild.

The crows from the brooch are facing opposite directions, each holding a symbolic stone in their talons. What does the white crow see in our past? Why is the black crow looking at our future?

Despite the menacing juxtaposition of colors, both crows look contemplative and calm. They mean no threat.

These pieces by Ilgiz Fazulzyanov are for genuine art connoisseurs, valuing not just the name of the brand and value of materials, but also the artistry, aesthetics and creativity.

A timeless and priceless investment, if you’re considering one.

#POMELLATOFORWOMEN : A LUXURY JEWELRY BRAND RAISING AWARENESS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

AT A TIME OF GLOBAL LOCKDOWNS, POMELLATO SPEAKS OUT ON BEHALF OF WOMEN AND GIRLS WHO HAVE OR WHO MAY BECOME VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE
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Hidden from public view, home is where we feel safe to be ourselves. But not for everyone. Under the cover of Covid-19, there has been a huge surge in domestic abuse. Terrible things have been happening behind closed doors, sealed even more tightly during these past few months because of mass lockdowns and quarantines.

Despite widespread and powerfully promoted gender equality, in many spheres of modern life women remain precariously vulnerable and unprotected.

For this reason, on November 25 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – luxury jewelry brand Pomellato launched a social media and video campaign to raise awareness on domestic abuse.

Pomellato’s initiative is a tremendous breakthrough for luxury brands. Conceptually distant from the real world, submerged deep into the divine microcosm of art, design and unsoiled, supermundane beauty, they often appear to be dramatically detached from the facts of life.

And yet, who to support women and raise awareness of the hot-button gender issues better than a brand that stands for women, their freedom and independence.

With that in mind, in 2017 Pomellato founded the platform #PomellatoForWomen to promote gender equality and inclusivity.

And it shows no sign of letting up. Not until abuse and violence against women has stopped.

On MK Nuvola (Italian for ‘cloud’) rings, timeless beauty by Pomellato. Let us hope that the beautiful clouds stay in artistic realm – and we soon see the bright sun above our heads in real life…

LIKE A PHOENIX THEY RISE: FREDERIC MALLE PERFUME AND NAK ARMSTRONG’S EARRINGS

A SEDUCTIVE RETRO-VIBE SMELL THAT PLAYS IN TUNE WITH GEOMETRIC PINK OPAL EARPIECES
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It’s funny how memory sometimes plays games with our senses. A tone of voice, a smell, the perception of colors come together and build a multifaceted image in our heads. Sometimes we don’t even understand the reasons behind this, or remember why.

I was nudged to smell the Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose perfume by my seven-year old daughter, who was genuinely in love with it. To be honest, I was reluctant even to try it: the name, the notes, the very concept did not speak to me. But once I gave it a go, in a flash I knew: That’s my A.! This smell is all about her!   Lipstick Rose—a love-it-or-leave-it aromatic concoction of grapefruit and violet, sweet rose, iris and raspberry, sensuous and fluffy vanilla and white musk—was developed by one of Frederic Malle’s legendary perfumers, Ralf Schwieger, famous for his ability to create intellectual and intuitive perfumes with surprising personalities.

It’s a perfume that makes everyone sense something different. A time travel machine, for some, taking you back to your childhood home, secretly poking around the taboo contents of your mother’s dressing table, trying on her crimson red lipstick, playing at being a grown-up woman for the first time. The dressing room of a 50’s pin-up girl, with, luxuriant, shiny, dark hair, ruby-red lips, smouldering gaze and a killer smile. A go-to office perfume: indulgently sweet, dressy and sexy, but with a demure hint of ‘stay away’ attitude. The delicious allure of the divine Marilyn Monroe. The smell of semi-dark theatres. The ‘big girl’ perfume of real Divas, with a sense of humor and touch of modern irony. The gourmand, bottled essence of the X chromosome.

To balance its sweet, seductive force, I picked up a geometric, sophisticated creation by the extremely talented award-winning designer Nak Armstrong – his Nakard Phoenix sterling silver and opal earrings.   At the core of their modern mobile-like silhouette are the mosaic, repetitive, smooth pale pink cells, cascading down your earlobes and gently swaying with your every step—the pure manifestation of beauty and intellect, stripped of pomposity and cliché.

The modern retro Lipstick Rose smell makes its glorious return and complements with elegance the Phoenix earrings and the femininity of the present-day, ultimate woman.

THE JEWELRY ICON

A PEEK INTO THE SILKY SECRETS OF A LADY’S BOUDOIR IN LYDIA COURTEILLE’S COLLECTION LA VIE EN ROSE

GENTLE HUES OF POWDERY PINK, ENVELOPED IN LACES, RIBBONS AND REFINED MYSTERY
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Illustration by Ellie Rahim

Et dès que je l’aperçois
Alors je sens en moi
Mon cœur qui bat

Edith Piaf, La Vie En Rose

The meaning of those words by the legendary singer Edit Piaf—‘And when I see him, inside I feel my heart pounding’—applies to every piece by the avant-garde Parisian jeweler Lydia Courteille.

Each of Lydia’s masterpieces is looking for that one and only person, the perfect fit for her surreal creations, someone who will not need to look and think twice before making up their mind and choosing them.

It has to be love at first sight…

This seductive collection, La Vie en Rose, is a tribute to the glamour, tantalizing charm and romanticism of Paris.

The powdery pink of morganites is complemented by delicate lacing and bows, adding a subtle touch like exquisite lingerie, evoking the delightful and fresh smell of a rose flower, inviting you to draw closer, open up to your senses and enjoy the sight of both the jewels and the wearer.

Chandelier earrings in pink gold and titanium, encrusted with fancy sapphires and morganites, conjure up images of spicy samba headdresses from the Rio Carnival, the spectacular headpieces of cabaret dancers, fronds of palm trees against the dark skies, and the dancing fountains of a big city on a sultry summer night, illuminated by colorful lights.

To complement the earrings, or to be marveled at on its own, is the statement ring in yellow gold, morganite, pink sapphires and rubies, as well as black and white diamonds.

Extraordinary and entrancing, they reveal the world behind them.

This could be your world: full of mystery, seduction and strong character.

The full sensual force and sophistication of the jewels reveal their true colors against the clean and feminine lines of illustrations by Ellie Rahim.

ANCIENT WORLDS AND TALISMANIC SYMBOLS: DAVID WEBB’S NEW INTERPRETATION OF THE ZODIAC

LEO’S CLAW AND SCORPIO’S STING IN STRONG, STATEMENT HAMMERED-GOLD PIECES BY THE ICONIC JEWELER
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Illustration by INCYCUBANS
David Webb—the quintessential American luxury jewelry house—presents a new capsule collection.

Zodiac.

Whether a believer in astrology and the stories of our lives as told by the stars, or a science-minded sceptic and astronomer, everyone will find something in these small, rough-hewn golden plaques, each depicting a reimagined astrological sign on one side and a classic astrological symbol on the other.

The twelve pendant necklaces, both antique- and modern-looking and archeological in spirit, were inspired by unconventional designs from the 60s discovered in David
Webb’s archives, and his fascination with the ancient world.

The rectangular pendants in yellow gold, or in yellow gold encrusted with diamonds, are carved with the history of the iconic jewelry house and constellations of ancient meaning.

These unique, versatile and precious objects can become your one-and-only talisman and faithful companion to your casual, everyday style, or complement and enrich an extravagant jewelry ensemble for an elegant soirée.

THE JEWELRY ICON

A HUMBLE YET CHARISMATIC GARDEN FLOWER BECOMES A SEDUCTIVE EARPIECE IN THE HANDS OF CHOPARD’S JEWELERS

THE FRENCH HIGH JEWELRY HOUSE ETERNALIZES THE BEAUTY OF A PANSY IN A SET OF CAPTIVATING EARRINGS
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Illustration by Inkycubans

The sapphire, garnet and amethyst petals, tsavorite dewdrops and yellow-brown diamond centers of Chopard’s Pansy earrings are held together by an ultra-lightweight, delicate, yet stupendously strong titanium framework—a brilliant solution by the Maison’s jewelers, who have considered not only the aesthetic appeal of the earrings but also the comfort of the lucky wearer.
They are part of Chopard’s Red Carpet 2020 collection, inspired by the beauty of Nature. Conceptualized by the Maison’s Co-President and Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele, it celebrates both strong and fragile species of flora and fauna as a symbolic tribute and statement of the brand’s journey towards sustainable and ethical jewelry, It’s a mark of respect towards both natural resources and human labor.
Once I heard a wistful old Russian tale about a girl named Anyuta who is turned into a flower after many years of waiting for her boy to return from war. Since then, pansies are called in Russian “Anyuta’s eyes” and this gentle flower grows by the roadside, looking into the distance, in the hope that the sweetheart will come back, safe and sound.
The portrait of a woman by contemporary artist Lolita Pelegrime—slightly edgy, capturing with bold, chaotic strokes the expression and colors —yearns to wear this stellar creation by Chopard, radiating delicate and powerful energy, intense and gentle hues, as well as its life-affirming balance of art, beauty and extraordinary finesse.

BEAUTY IN A CAN: NEW JEWELRY COLLECTION BY ANABELA CHAN

LONDON ARTIST TURNING RECYCLED ALUMINUM INTO WEARABLE PHANTASMAGORIC BLOSSOMS
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The statement Rainbow Magnolia earrings from Anabela Chan’s new fine jewelry collection, Blooms, are a vision from an indulgent daydream. A wild, exotic flower from a fantasy world, caught in the long hair of an elusive nymph.

Aluminum is much lighter than gold, which makes it possible for the artist to conceptualize and create sizable, dramatic pieces without worrying that they might permanently ruin the wearer’s ears. Fashioned from recycled rainbow-hued aluminum and gold vermeil, laboratory-grown trillion- and cushion-cut emeralds, pavé-set canary and white diamonds, peridots, tourmalines and emeralds, with detachable flower studs, they seem to defy laws of gravity.

To turn trash into treasure, in the truest sense of the word, Anabela Chan recycles aluminum cans, giving them new lives in her dreamy creations.

The cans are cut and melted at extreme temperatures to remove impurities and excessive porosity and create a smooth surface for the application of rich, vivid colors. The lava-like, sizzling metal is then poured into ingots to obtain the delicate petals, which are later color-treated using a method known as physical vapor deposition, a process in which the material goes from a condensed phase to vapor and back to the condensed phase, producing a thin film on the surface.

As complicated and technical as it may sound, the results are always elegant, exhilarating and jolly.

On top of all that, in their mischievous yet extremely thoughtful approach to luxury jewelry, Anabela Chan and her team pursue ethical sustainability: they use only lab-grown stones of the highest quality, with all the beauty and optical qualities of natural gems, but untainted by armed conflict, poor working conditions, risks to human lives and other mining-related safety and environmental hazards.

See for yourself: can you spot a can in this miraculous beauty?

REFLECTIONS OF LIGHT AND ETHICAL BEAUTY IN THE ICE CUBE COLLECTION BY MARION COTILLARD AND CHOPARD

A NEW HIGH JEWELRY COLLECTION WITH FRENCH FLAIR AND HIGH ALBEDO
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Have you ever heard of ‘albedo’? It’s a measure of the amount of light reflected by the surface rather than being absorbed by it. Things that appear white reflect most of the light that hits them, hence a high albedo, while dark objects absorb most of the light so their albedo is low.

An important word in my store of knowledge and the way I perceive the world, with all its beauty and deformities, smooth flow and rough edges, light and darkness.

The new capsule ‘Ice Cube’ collection by Marion Cotillard and Chopard is the ultimate manifestation of balance between luxury and consciousness, sublime beauty and the mindful journey towards it.

The French actress and environmental activist – best known for her Oscar-winning role as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose – was encouraged to create the collection by her long-time friend Caroline Scheufele, Co-President and Artistic Director of the Maison. Marion worked on the collection with artistic director Eliott Bliss, while Chopard provided her with Fairmined-certified ethical gold and diamonds, and with technical support by the house’s finest professionals.

Ice reflects light energy back to space, thus protecting the Earth from overheating. This has been an integral part of stabilizing the global climate for millennia. The ‘Ice Cube’ collection reflects a more ethical and sustainable form of luxury, thus raising the bar for future high jewelry collections, designs and technologies.

Inspired by the bulky and powerful shape of the cube, the gorgeous and creative Marion deconstructs classical shapes and points of view to turn them into enigmatic, edgy and always feminine jewels.

Full of energy, radiance and Marion’s inestimable charm, this versatile set, with easily combinable pieces, is suitable for either day or night, Super Bowl or elegant soirée—a relaxed, refreshing and contemporary way to wear diamonds.

The geometric and asymmetric shapes, miniature ice cubes incorporated into the laconic and seductive parure, are composed of a diamond ring and six asymmetric earrings, echoing Nature’s raw, asymmetric yet logical ways. The clip earrings, intended for both non-pierced and pierced ears, can be worn separately or stacked in all sorts of different combinations.

A tribute to timeless beauty, resolute femininity and natural balance, Marion’s and Chopard’s ‘Ice Cube’ collection merges the laws of art with the laws of Nature to create a refined tandem of gold and ice, ethics and diamonds.

A dazzling and modern collection to adorn the quintessential Woman.

ALCAZAR RING BY AISHA BAKER: THE ARCHITECTURE OF FANTASY

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MINIATURE GOLDEN BUILDING BLOCKS FOR YOUR STYLE AND CREATIVITY
From the depths of an unstoppable imagination rises a fairy-tale castle of gold and enamel, red tourmaline, diamonds, emeralds and rubies, blue and yellow sapphires.

Your mind and senses enter the Alcazar Ring from the fantastic world of Aisha Baker’s ‘Mirror Mirror’ jewelry collection.

The sophisticated architectural projection of a miniature building – inspired by European royal palaces and alcazars – brings about a bewitching and breathtaking mix of colors, geometrical patterns and emotions.

It’s an artistic agglomeration of precious blocks, staircases and secret chambers of gold, with stained glass windows of colorful gemstones and the mystical symbols of Aisha’s signature enamel embellishments, such as paisley, fish and five-pointed stars. You might almost expect invisible gears to start spinning and for this magical structure to start moving, rebuilding and redesigning itself the very moment you blink or look away.

Aisha Baker’s interpretation puts together the alcazars of Seville and Toledo, Segovia and Cordoba to create an intricate and unique fortress to fuel your fantasies.

An impressive ring that will never become boring.

So beautiful and seductive, it is almost unreal.

AIRY, HEAVENLY AND ALMOST UNREAL: TILLANDSIA NECKLACE BY CARTIER

INSPIRED BY AN AIR PLANT, THIS HYPNOTIZING PIECE OF JEWELRY ART BASKS IN THE BRIGHT RAYS OF LIGHT AND ENDLESS ADMIRATION
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From Cartier’s new high jewelry collection [SUR]NATUREL, this creation is as surreal as any of the extraordinary and unlikely designs concocted by Nature.

An offspring of the imagination of Cartier’s Creative Director, Jacqueline Karachi, it draws your attention to two exceptional beryls, with white, yellow and brown diamonds spreading like roots from their base.

On the back of the impressive, soft green beryls, clear as mountain lakes, rests an extraordinary structural detail: diamond armature—an astonishing framework of diamond drops, shining through the transparent, gleaming beryl ponds.

The leaves of Tillandsia—an unusual air plant which inspired this necklace,—are covered with cells capable of quickly absorbing water from the air and from surfaces. In a similar fashion, the diamond pavé shines like tiny droplets of life-giving water, absorbed by the necklace and keeping it alive and magnificent.

These bizarre plants cling naturally and prosper on tree branches, bark, rocks, even shifting desert sands.

The Cartier Tillandsia necklace wants to cling to your delicate neck. Airy and heavenly, mesmerizing and luscious—a supernatural masterpiece by a true artist.

TIE & DIOR: AN HYPNOTIC KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLORS, ASYMMETRY AND ABSTRACTION AND ASYMMETRY

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VICTOIRE DE CASTELLANE AND DIOR JOAILLERIE ONCE AGAIN PROVE ONCE AGAIN THAT SOURCES OF INSPIRATION AND THEIR EMBODIMENTS IN JEWELRY ARE ENDLESS
To be that bold with colors, asymmetry and abstraction, you have to really know what you’re doing and have complete control over your imagination , creative powers and sense of styleistic sense. Otherwise, you risk spilling creativity and eclecticity over the top—only to becobecomingme pretentious, artificial and kitschy.

You have to be the a wizard of your artistry, the master of your creativity, and the a virtuoso of your trade.

Victoire de Castellane, creative director of Dior’s fine jewelry division, indeed is all that. With spectacular, vibrant and passionate artistic strokes that are spectacular, vibrant and passionate, she once again she proves that any technique can be translated into high jewelry. The way she Victoire interprets jewelry is consistently different and quite miraculous. Her colorful, exuberant, maximalist creations are always unpredictable, enchanting, and don’t never disappoint.

The color variations and gradations, different shapes and sizes of stones, topped with asymmetric designs: Mthe mesmerizing earrings from the new high jewelry collection Tie & Dior – with stones in varying shapes and sizes and gradations of color, all in asymmetric designs – verge upon a surreal extravaganza.

The central idea behind thise collection came from the hippyish trend of tie-dying: the sunny, free-spirited and uplifting technique of dying fabric by folding or twisting, pleating or crumpling, followed by the application of dye, characterized by bright colors and bold patterns—an optimistic and perky response to the soullessness and sterility of a mechanical, tedious daily routine.

Thee new collection, covering overwith more than 100 pieces, builds upon the previous collections: Gem Dior, —where the asymmetry, roughness and irregularity -, characteristic of raw minerals -, crystallize into little, provocatively exquisite poems, and Dior et Moi with its— playful and colorful jewels, full of asymmetrical details. Tie & Dior, in turn, is dominated by a refreshing bursts of lively, kaleidoscopic masses of color. Each vividly colored stone, selected with incredible eye for detail, complements its neighbor—as well as nd the entire overall piece. The gradations and alterations of colorful gems, with intermittent use of d by colorless diamonds, bring a refreshing movement, rhythm and harmony to these extraordinary, sizeable creations.

Instead of a loud cacophony of screaming, mismatcheding colors, patterns and shapes, the hypnotic clusters of jewels come together in ultramodern designs and gracious syntonyharmony. A bold, swirling dance of exceptional pear-, marquise- and oval-cut stones, pink and white, yellow and purple, green and grey, alongside velvety, and silky pearls, which counterbalance and contrast withing and contrasting with the shimmer of rubies, and sapphires, diamonds and emeralds.

The asymmetry of the earrings, perfectly matching each other, echoes the asymmetric beauty of human nature. The kind of asymmetry you do n’ot question, because it is always there,: in our ears, eyes and, brain lobes;; our left eyebrow arching more curiously than the right one, a dimple on the right cheek emphasizing the smoothness of the left.

Many people seem to prefer one side of their face to another: instinctively or intentionally turning it towards cameras whenever their photographsictures are taken

Could you choose just one favorite Tie & Dior earring from a dazzling asymmetric pair? I honestly couldn’t.: I love them all.

LUZ CAMINO AND LOLITA PELEGRIME: LOOKING THROUGH THE EYES OF DREAMERS

September25Jewelry in Art
ORDINARY PEOPLE AND OBJECTS BECOME EXTRAORDINARY IN THE HANDS OF PHENOMENAL ARTISTS.
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When I first saw a painting by a young, talented Lithuanian artist, Lolita Pelegrime (@pelegrime_lolita), I had a sense of happy deja vu. This is what I had been searching for!
Staring at me was a red-haired woman: her body half-turned, pastel strokes of clothes fused with a white ambience.
Instantly, I had a vision of Lolita’s portraits twinned with masterpieces created by an incredible Spanish jewelry designer Luz Camino.

They are both marvelous and utterly individual, each putting a fantastic amount of love, emotion, creativity and sensitivity into their work.

And they are both Dreamers..

‘Inspired by nature’ is an extreme understatement about Luz Camino’s work. Her pieces are Nature itself, transformed into wearable art through her consummate use of gems, precious metals, unconventional materials, and innovative techniques, along with the way she pushes to the limit her skills as a jeweler and her artistic imagination.

From exquisite, expensive stones to tin cans, in her designs, Luz is not afraid to experiment. She employs anything and everything. Mushroom brooches, acorn earrings, a pencil shavings-shaped ring: she elevates the essence and beauty of ordinary objects high above the prose of everyday life.

To treat your eyes and imagination to other, similar marvels created by Luz Camino, see the Moda Operandi trunkshow.

THE SHINING OF ARISTOCRACY: BUCCELLATI AND BEATRICE BORROMEO

THE RAVISHING TANDEM OF ITALIAN JEWELER BUCCELLATI AND BEATRICE BORROMEO OPENS A NEW PAGE IN THE ART OF JEWELRY
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Illustration by Hakan Arblom 

A dignified European royal, intellectual, free spirit, modern female role model and style icon on a magical day at the Piazza di Spagna, Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza di Pietra and at Villa Lante al Gianicolo on Janiculum Hill in Rome for an elegant black-and-white campaign shot by British photographer Josh Olins.
Who else to represent the classy, refined chic of the sumptuous Roman atmosphere if not the gorgeous Beatrice Borromeo, wearing new masterpieces by Buccellati inspired by the Italian Renaissance and delicate ornaments of the natural world?
The Rombi collection of earrings, ring and watch and the Ramage ring and pendant, in white and yellow gold with diamonds, all radiate light and regal splendor in the melancholic haze of the Mediterranean sun.
This symbiosis of the luxury Italian heritage jewelry brand with an elegant member of the Italian elite – Beatrice Borromeo is a journalist, documentarian and special envoy for human rights of the global platform Fashion 4 Development – showcases these pieces of perfection. They can be worn separately or together, seamlessly blending with an exquisite evening gown at a formal reception in a royal palace or with elegant casual attire at a quite bistro.
Such intricate craftsmanship has continued through the Buccellati family for several generations. These luxurious, rich pieces are so delicate and sophisticated that they can be worn all together, and still not look even the tiniest bit too much.

THE ART OF STAYING AT HOME BY LUZ CAMINO

“En el corazón de todo arte grandioso hay una melancolía esencial.

At the heart of all great art is an essential melancholy.”

Federico García Lorca

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Portrait by Chris Gambrell_ 

At the end of April, I received a letter from Luz Camino—a Madrid-based jewelry designer and friend. She included a photograph of herself: a classy, beautiful woman wearing a light brim hat, sitting peacefully and elegantly on a wooden garden bench.
The bright spring day filled my own room, as I became immersed in the smells and sounds, felt the refreshing wind in my hair and light of the sun on my skin. Indeed, the very name of this amazing lady, radiating warmth, sophistication and soft luminescence, means ‘light’.

Madrid, April 30th, 2020

Dear Maria,

It is truly kind of you to think about me and my family. We are all in good health, thank God. I trust that you and your family are equally well. Hopefully, we will all manage to get through these difficult times we are living in the best way we can.

I must admit I felt privileged from day one. My dearest friend and partner invited me to seclude myself in his home outside Madrid, together with him and his Argentinian cousin who was visiting at the time and could not return home. It is a spacious house with a garden that allows us to stroll and breathe fresh air. We are like the Three Musketeers ready to have the best time possible.

On March 13th, I set off to this home just a few days after returning from Maastricht, where I had an exhibition of my pieces at TEFAF represented by Deborah Elvira gallery. I packed a quick suitcase with four trousers, four shirts, four pullovers, two pairs of shoes, two pairs of earrings, some watercolors and pencils, some gems in order to finish some pending designs, and two books.  I thought the lockdown would last three weeks at most, but we were evidently wrong because I have been here for seven weeks now…
 
These past few weeks, I have had the privilege of witnessing the blooming of spring: from the dormant trees, bushes and plants wearing their naked winter outfits until now, when they have reached their maximum splendor. I have never experienced this with such calmness and consistency. We rarely have the time to actually ‘see’ when looking, and we have now been given the opportunity to notice wonderful things that happen around us which we usually miss in our day-to-day rush.
 
Every day I go out in the garden to see what new flower it gifts me with that day. I have seen a peony’s life, from the bud to its full bloom and how it gradually wilted. I have discovered nests in trees that, as you know, Maria, will end up inspiring new jewelry designs. I have noticed the silence of the absence of cars and planes that allows us to hear the trilling of the different birds.
 
 

Every morning, I read for a while in bed and jump out at nine to have breakfast in my robe and nightgown. We try to do so all three together.

After a few days locked up, we decided that we had to cooperate in a solidarity project and so we started making reusable masks to be distributed free of charge among nursing homes in Madrid, made with the fabric surplus donated by Neck & Neck – a children’s clothes brand. I have to say, my sewing machine has become my favorite object or fetish these days. My tool for helping others.

We dedicate several hours a day to sewing the masks after breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have already delivered several hundred.

Not a day goes by where I do not do some exercise, for an hour or so. After working out, I get dressed and put on makeup as if I were invited out to lunch. I believe it is important to feel beautiful.

In the afternoon we play cards, canasta and crapette, very much fighting to win. At night, we watch a movie, a TV series or the news.

Aside from all these activities, I dedicate some time to work on jewelry designs. How could I not? I just finished a custom-made pair of earrings for a client through Moda Operandi and am developing my new collection that will be shown at Bergdorf Goodman at the end of the year.

Every day I talk with my family as well – it’s a big one! – and with friends who are spending isolation on their own. We have group videocalls with my children and grandchildren, which is fun and helps us keep in touch. I also stay in touch with Ana, my assistant, and a thousand times more with my son Fernando who, as you know, works with me and is my greatest help and support.

He has been involved in my designs for a long time now and he is behind the conception of several pieces. He plays an essential role in the development of my work and I am so happy to see that he shares my vision when it comes to jewelry, knowing that he will be able to follow in my footsteps. As you can imagine, after my telling you all of this, the days feel rather short and there has not been a single one where I felt bored or tired of isolation.

Sad, however, unfortunately yes, because as a result of this terrible pandemic, we have lost dear friends that I shall never forget. I hope, dear Maria, that you are taking good care of yourselves. Personally, I cannot wait to work full time again soon so that I can go back to collaborating with the great team of craftsmen who give life to my designs.

Made In The Sun: The Amber Fields of Ukraine

IN UKRAINE, FRENZIED AMBER MINING HAS DESTROYED THOUSANDS OF HECTARES OF FOREST AND MARSHES.

In scenes reminiscent of the gold rush in America’s Wild West, greed is corrupting not just the land but also the lives of the villagers hoping to make their fortune from it.

By Naomi Gryn 

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Illustration By Chris Gambrell

According to the ancient Greeks, Phaeton – the son of Helios, god of the sun – used his father’s golden chariot to ride across the sky. Fearing that the earth would be set on fire and destroyed, Zeus struck the chariot with a thunderbolt. Phaeton was thrown into the river and drowned. His grieving sisters became poplar trees, and their tears turned into amber, known in Greek as elektron, or made in the sun.

When you wear a piece of amber, you link yourself to the time of the dinosaurs. This fossilized tree resin, warm and soft to the touch, dates back millions of years, with inclusions such as insects, leaves, flowers, even dinosaur feathers that give us a window onto prehistoric ecosystems.

European amber has a rich honey color. It comes from a forest of giant conifer trees that once stretched for thousands of miles. The world’s largest known deposit is found along a coastal strip by the Baltic Sea, northwest of Kaliningrad, where it has been excavated since the mid-nineteenth century. Then, in the 1990s, Ukraine started to mine its own Rovno amber, called after the Rovno, or RIvne, district in northwest Ukraine, it what is now known by locals as the National Republic of Amber.

In China in ancient times, it was believed that tigers could live for 1000 years. After they die, their souls turn into amber – hu po in Chinese, meaning ‘tiger spirit’ – which was thought to bring good luck and have healing powers, and was used in jewelry, ornaments and medicine. In recent times, as supplies of jade became exhausted, a Chinese craze for hu po led to the price of amber soaring from $900 per kilo in 2011 to $2000 per kilo in 2015, and up to $4500 per kilo for very large stones.

Amber excavation in Ukraine became incredibly lucrative and, after the ‘EuroMaidan’ Revolution of 2014, as the country descended into lawlessness, criminal gangs operating in co-operation with corrupt police officers, Ukraine’s security service and politicians took charge of the country’s burgeoning amber trade. Amber miners – mostly villagers from areas with high unemployment – some equipped with pumps made from car or van parts, others with simple shovels, descend on forest areas where amber deposits have been found. Miners blast craters in the sandy soil and flood them with high-pressure water, so that amber will float to the surface. Then they wade into the water and use nets to fish out the stones.

Excavating as much as 400 tonnes of amber a year, the process has already turned many thousands of hectares of land into desert. No longer able to support plant life, once lush pine and birch forests and marshes now resemble a moonscape. Rivers and streams are polluted. It’s an ecological disaster.

Illegal miners have been making up to $50,000 a day, while the average salary for a Ukrainian factory worker is just $2,100 a year. Local youngsters now refuse to work in other jobs. There are drunken brawls and frequent fights over money: life in and around the amber fields resembles the wild west of America at the height of the gold rush. With no other means to support their families, the miners have been known to face down armed police trying to stop their activities. They bring guns, knives, even grenades to the pits. The amber is sold either to illegal Chinese wholesalers, or smuggled into Poland where it can be passed off as legally excavated Baltic amber and sold at the Gdansk stock market

With so much money to be made from bribes, no one involved in the protection rackets wanted to see Ukraine’s amber trade legalized, but at the end of last year, a bill was passed to try to control amber production.
Meanwhile, the oversupply of Rovno amber has drastically reduced its value, which has dropped to just $450 per kilo. And Chinese customers have become more discerning, now preferring smaller pendants to large ones, wanting only top quality beads of a certain size, color and shape. But our love story with amber is only on pause as it is still gaining popularity in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran where it is used for prayer beads.

The wisdom of the ancient Greeks echoes through the millennia: as we tear up our forests to raid their resources, we risk setting our world on fire and destroying the precious ecosystems that support human life. The amber tears of Phaeton’s sisters are a warning: enjoy our planet’s magnificent treasures, but guard against human greed so that our children and grandchildren might share them too.

THE OCEAN’S GIFT: ANGEL SKIN CORAL NECKLACE BY HEMMERLE

FIVE STRANDS OF AN EXTRAORDINARY AND RARE STUNNER

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Some creations belong to no one. Like our children, each with their own unique individuality.

Some things can never be forgotten. Like this exquisite necklace, flawless and pure.

Here is one of my favorite portrait paintings by Chris Gambrell. Hiding under a swaddling cloth is my newborn son, just a few weeks old, who also has skin like an angel.

Around my neck is the one-of-a-kind, divine Hemmerle necklace: five strands of pale-blush, ancient and extremely rare angel skin coral, complemented by diamonds and rose gold. So rare, in fact, that it took several decades for the jewelers of Hemmerle to collect the necessary amount of coral, simultaneously making sure that the beads all match in texture, tone and color, a faultless achievement of balance and symmetry.

A moment of perfect harmony, balanced by two of nature’s most extraordinary gifts: one in my arms and the other wrapped around my neck…

LILY OF THE VALLEY BY IRENE NEUWIRTH: THE DREAMY WAY TO RECREATE BEAUTY

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SUBLIME, BRIGHT PALETTE, CONTEMPORARY FEMININITY AND SOPHISTICATION: FLORAL EARRINGS TO BRING OUT THE SENSITIVE AND SENSUAL SIDE OF A WOMAN

Delicate and dangerous: lily of the valley has long been known for its healing and poisonous properties. During World War I, a drug obtained from this plant was allegedly used to treat exposure to poison gas. On the other end of the spectrum: this gentle, elegant and ostensibly innocent flower can cause dizziness, blurred vision and even much bigger problems.

But these flowers have always had a special place in my heart for a completely different reason. When I was a little girl, my mother gave me a birthday present—Diorissimo perfume. A beautiful, luxurious bottle, full of clean and clear scent, with the notes of green leaves, jasmine and ylang-ylang. For a child whose senses are still wide open and perceptive to all the magic in the world, this little bottle represented a whole new microcosm of smells, the marvel and the alchemy of the yet unfamiliar universe of fragrances.

These warm memories and the captivating, fresh, young smell came back to me once I saw the beautiful Irene Neuwirth’s earrings.

I am usually not a big fan of combining opposite tones, but the classic alliance of pale rose with turquoise blue resonated something tender and intimately emotional in me.

The scent of lily of the valley is hard to reproduce in perfumery since processing destroys the smell of its essential oils. Same with the delicate beauty of the original flower. And yet, the quirky, original design of the earrings, in yellow and white gold, carved turquoise and pink opal, akoya pearls and diamond pave, reflecting and redefining every movement and shape of the flower, is the perfect incarnation of this fragile and wild natural wonder.

For the innately feminine, wonderful woman.

THE JEWELRY ICON

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