With their geometric shapes, flowing curves and abstract forms, these pieces transform the body into a gallery.
During the pandemic, there has been an explosion of cute, sparkly, rainbow-colored jewelry that was meant to lift spirits in dark times. However, jazzy and bright jewelry is not to everyone’s taste. There are those who prefer more pure, modern, sculpted forms – thoughtful shapes that are tactile and alluring in their fluidity or volume.
These shapes vary, from organic to geometric; they can have a simplicity of line, or they can turn into complex structures that reflect positive and negative space. These designs have a timeless quality, notes Nada Ghazal.
“Our pieces are quite versatile and timeless,” says the Lebanese jeweler, whose clients range from young millennials to more mature and discerning buyers who snatch up her alluring and chunky rings and cuffs. “What they share is a need to be individualistic. Jewelry is the centerpiece of their outfit, and they are looking for something authentic, something that has a soul.
A large audience
American designer based in London Jacqueline Rabun has made a name for herself with fluid, conceptual pieces that she believes reflect the human experience. “Clients who are attracted to my work generally appreciate the pure minimalist design; [they include] artists, architects and designers,” she says. Nevertheless, her long collaboration with Danish brand Georg Jensen means that her work reaches a wider audience.
Turkish jeweler Senem Gençoğlu, founder and creator of Kloto, had a similar experience. “Kloto is a niche brand, and the majority of collectors are people who love design and art, but I find that our audience is more and more varied, because the collections have a certain price range, fluidity gender and materials,” she says. . “Silver, gold and mixed [metals] maybe not mainstream, but [they do] attract a larger audience than expected.
Istanbul-based Gençoğlu draws inspiration from the Bauhaus era and 1960s modernism, subscribing to the principle that “good design is sustainable”. Her sculptural design language is rooted in her background in industrial and furniture design, so the jewelry ranges from geometric curves to flowing curves reminiscent of a Zaha Hadid building – though she quotes Japanese architect Tadao Ando and the sculptor Isamu Noguchi as a source of inspiration.
There is an innate elegance in the work of these designers. Catherine Sarr’s signature aesthetic for her Almasika The brand is founded on abstract lines and undulating curves, while Brazilian jeweler Antonio Bernardo’s ideas tend to be delicate, undulating linear shapes, especially his swirling rings.
tabayer, a new brand that debuted this year in Las Vegas, feels equally cool and modern even as it invokes the past. Her penchant for tapering gold shapes with diamond tips draws inspiration from an ancient amulet of coiled reeds, distilling this image into jewelry that wraps around the fingers and wrists. While others may add gemstones, engravings or other embellishments, founder Nigora Tokhtabayeva prefers simplicity. “Creating something really special just by forging metal into elemental and purely beautiful shapes is a real challenge,” she says.
Ute Decker, who exhibited at Design Miami, has spent 20 years in political economy and journalism while exploring the creative arts in evening classes. She launched her first wearable artwork in 2009. “I cherish the element of surprise when someone realizes [after putting] a piece on which it is truly wearable”, explains the German-born jeweler based in London. Its gold and silver structures suggest waves and spirals that “have a calm and dynamism. It is the tension with the empty space and the line that frames this empty space.
In the wings
Decker sees the creative process as “both creative and intellectual exploration.” She spends hours in the studio with garden wire or brass strips, trying out shapes and deciding which parts of the body would work best. She then makes brass models to see how they sit and balance on the body.
The process for Vram MinassianThe spine-shaped Chrona Totem earrings and the trumpet-shaped Sine and Echo collections run the gamut from traditional goldsmithing and lost-wax casting to high-tech equipment. “The magic of the work is not in a singular technique; it’s the emotion you feel when you feel it,” says the Los Angeles-based jeweler, who was in his 50s when he finally started telling his story with sculptural pieces.
Ghazal’s ideas start with sketches, which she 3D prints or works in wax before handing them over to the artisans in Beirut who make her jewelry.
Gençoğlu, on the other hand, uses traditional cutting and welding to work on her sculptural forms for Kloto, then employs technology. She has artisans from Grand Bazaar in Istanbul who produce the designs and do her stone setting. “Setting the stone requires very complex work, and the whole process is done by hand under a microscope,” says Gençoğlu. “The stones are set with a special technique, so they are very close to each other to create a uniform look.”
To gem or not to gem?
Using diamonds and colored stones as accents can highlight a shape or take a piece of jewelry from day to night. For example, Rabun’s Beautiful collection includes a statement ring that sandwiches a sliver of white gold edged with diamonds between white and yellow gold halves for an evening look; the ribbon is removable for the day.
Diamonds also give Tabayer and Antonio Bernardosparkle pieces and marquise cuts add unusual shape to Almasika’s jewelry silhouettes. Ghazal uses diamonds in shades of gray to white, or sprinkles her brushed gold designs with tiny stones in bright, summery colors from her native Beirut.
For Minassian, the passion for form comes first. “I then use gemstone treatments only when it serves form,” he says.
Gençoğlu feels the same: “I use diamonds for highlighting, because I want the shape to be the center of attention. However, with some pieces, the diamonds bring the shape to life and accentuate the curves – guiding the eye, in a way.
Sculptural jewelry “can be the most intimate art form because you wear it on your body,” observes Decker. “Not only is it an adornment, it is also a beautiful sculpture.”
Article from Rapaport Magazine – August 2022. To subscribe click here.