Good vibrations

Spring is the season of new beginnings.

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story,” writes award-winning author Linda Hogan.

By Debbie Hathway

Published in Sawubona October 2019

It is food for thought. As the birds wake earlier to herald the warmer days of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, and beautiful wild flowers pop up anywhere they can put down roots, Mother Nature offers a natural springboard to productivity.

Artists have used nature as their model for centuries. I love the work of the Fauvists, a group of early 20th-century modern artists with a penchant for intense colour. Think Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh and our own Irma Stern. It is a style that Fabergé channels into its Secret Garden High Jewellery collection, which is “evocative of Russian artist Marc Chagall’s depiction of flowers and rich bouquets, expressing vivacity and life through an artistic and organic approach. Just like the iconic Fabergé egg, flowers symbolise renewal and rebirth as well as the first sign of spring.”

Says Fabergé jewellery designer Liisa Tallgren: “We love colour at Fabergé and true to our heritage we almost always include coloured gemstones or enamel in our pieces.”

But how do the craftsmen reproduce something so fragile and delicate in hard metal? “It takes years for craftsmen to master their art and complex pieces take a very long time to make,” says Tallgren. “A flower study in precious materials in a wearable size can never be an accurate representation of nature, but a stylised interpretation and that is also the beauty of it.”

One of the biggest challenges is the scale: the smaller the piece, the more precision needed. Gemstones are not cut below certain sizes as they start to lose their colour when viewed without magnification and larger stones in pavé can look clumsy. “The other challenge is the weight; gemstones need to be set into metal that has a certain thickness and the piece can get heavy, which is not practical especially for earrings. The claws must be strong enough to secure the gemstones, but if they are too heavy they will ruin the look.”

Floral jewels

Maison Chopard’s 2019 Red Carpet Collection is all about love. Co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele draws on her extraordinary creativity and the age-old jewellery know-how passed on through generations at the Mains d’Art of the Haute Joaillerie Chopard workshops to reinterpret the beauty of their natural surroundings. She sees the energy in the creative universe and transforms it into floral jewels that convey the strength of the passion that brought them to life.

Meanwhile, at the Graff atelier in London, master craftsmen use stone-led design techniques to emphasise the beauty of each stone, as well as centuries-old goldsmithing tools, state-of-the-art computerised design technology and laser soldering machines to produce some of the most captivating jewels in the world. The final stage of the production process sees every niche of the piece buffed with cotton thread to maximise the reflection of light through the stone.

Graff has created a collection of charming figurative brooches featuring birds on leaves, brought to life by diamonds, rubies and sapphires, all set by hand. Says Anne-Eva Geffroy, design director at Graff: “Each brooch portrays the delicate mannerisms of the birds and fleeting moments in time where they interact with one another and their surroundings. They capture perfectly the wonder of nature.”


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