Illustration by Inkycubans
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.
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.
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…
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.
A HUMBLE YET CHARISMATIC GARDEN FLOWER BECOMES A SEDUCTIVE EARPIECE IN THE HANDS OF CHOPARD’S JEWELERS
Illustration by Inkycubans
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.
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?
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.
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.
“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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
WHAT RESOURCES FOR INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION CAN BE FOUND AT HOME?
The hour of and-what-if-nothing-remains-after-us.
The hollow hour.
The very pit of all other hours.
No one feels good at four in the morning.
The ominous picture painted by the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska: four in the morning, the hour of ghosts, the hour which is neither early nor late—the bizarre hour.
But not everyone dislikes and avoids this mystical time of the day.
An artist’s home at 4.30 in the morning. Everyone is fast asleep. Or wait: someone is awake—and painting!
Chris Gambrell (@gambrell_) – a striking fashion illustrator and portraitist from Bristol, UK.
The soft strokes and bright, mellow colors of his paintings got me thinking: what is his secret to keeping the inner peace in anxious times like this? How does he keep his imagination and motivation quarantine-free when the whole world is practicing one or another form of isolation?
Enter Chris’ home, look around, dive into his daily routine and listen to his stories:
For me, the art of staying at home is getting up three hours before everybody else.
Secretly, I have enjoyed being able to get up at 4:30 every morning, with hot oats and a cup of English breakfast tea, followed by a neat, strong espresso. I work best at that time of day. The fresh, impressionable early-morning brain deals well with creativity, and I am able to put down the landmarks, which inspire me to produce more.
Since my work is affected by my mood, I have a routine of warmups to get me to the right mental place. This is often short-timed drawings on a page divided into small panels, something which I do not ‘treasure’ too much. I can then produce quality work and draw carefree until the first signs of activity.
With homeschool in session, me and the kids do a thirty-minute workout every day just before lunch and then try our best to replenish energy with some fresh nutrients.
Having the kids around keeps things fast and light, and the day soon nears evening. After a heavier meal prepared more thoughtfully than usual—because the cooking process has to be taken back a stage or two, depending on product availability,—the kids head to bed, and I can get on with working.
What’s been fascinating is seeing all of the different learning and working processes together in one place, weaving around one another; how we cut up the house to allocate zones for leisure, work and learning.
For me, it’s been an eye-opener: to reimagine spaces for different purposes. Now more than ever, the space in which I work has countless additional demands on it, and the day itself has to be cut into chunks, with time factored in for setting up, cleaning, workouts, making sure the kids are occupied and everybody’s happy.
The notice boards around the house have just had the whimsical jokes and long-term games erased and removed. Overnight, timetables and incentive charts took their place. For how long, who knows.
It’s taken a week or two to establish the new normality. We do what we have to do to ensure that we and others are safe and to ‘damage-limit’.
But, take five very busy lives, all with very different goals and needs, and squish them into the same place at the same time ‘all of the time’—and the need for routine becomes king.
Being aware of what is happening focuses and distracts me at the same time. But we have to carry on, and I choose to try and read the headlines and news in a more objective, fact-based way, trying not to dwell emotionally.