Generally speaking, a 30th birthday marks a significant milestone—an occasion of truly coming into one’s own identity. Such is the case for Vhernier the Italian jeweler that will celebrate its own 30-year anniversary this month with a new collection of its trademark minimalist jewelry.
Founded in 1984 by a collective of creatives—an architect, a sculptor and a jeweler—based in Valencia, Italy, Vhernier has built its brand on pieces that combine modern lines with delicate sensuality (they count artists Constantin Brâncu?i and Lucio Fontana as inspirations). An illusion of fluidity runs throughout Vhernier’s jewelry and is achieved by using softly rounded edges, rather than hard angles, and setting stones with only two prongs to give dense pavés an exceptionally smooth touch.
These core tenets are manifest in the two ranges that comprise the anniversary collection: Freccia, an homage to the triangle rendered in colorful gems and pavé diamonds (rings start at $6,000, bracelets at $18,000), and Bisquit, whose highlights include oval hoop earrings ($7,500) and chain-link necklaces ($24,700) in shades of Australian and Tahitian mother-of-pearl. Both lines utilize materials and techniques that have become Vhernier signatures, including layering mother-of-pearl atop turquoise or jade to lend the richly hued gems a milky opalescence, most luminously showcased in the Bisquit rings.
Vhernier’s relative youth in the august world of fine jewelry—most major players have roots going back more than a century—gives the brand its distinctively free spirit. And while it may be celebrating getting older, Vhernier’s designs are as modern as ever. vhernier.it/it-it/.
Courtesy of MUNNU The Gem Palace
As the creator of intricate, handmade jewelry popular among royalty, Bollywood and Hollywood celebrities and chic civilians, Munnu Kasliwal was India’s most prominent jeweler when he died of brain cancer in 2012. Today, his Munnu The Gem Palace brand (headquartered in Jaipur, India) lives on through his 29-year-old son, Siddharth, who began working full-time with his dad more than a decade ago. The younger Kasliwal now designs the pieces sold at Barneys New York boutiques nationwide, a by-appointment atelier on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and other high-end retailers globally. (Peacock earrings in amethyst and tourmaline are pictured here.)
While 35 of his father’s works are currently on display at the Moscow Kremlin Museum in an exhibition called “India: Jewels that Enchanted the World” (through July 27; kreml.ru), Siddharth is working on his first collection, set on establishing his own reputation as a master. Here, we catch up with him.
Q: How does your aesthetic differ from your father’s?
A: I worked with him for so long that the style, quality and craftsmanship is identical. The jewelry looks distinctly Indian but not ethnic. It’s modern. But I am younger, so I would say my work is more playful and colorful in terms of the stones I use. I love spinels, for example. My dad did, too, but I might use more of them in a necklace or bracelet.
Q: What characterizes your creative process?
A: When something inspired my father, he would sketch. He did literally dozens of sketches in a day, even drawing from his hospital bed in Manhattan. I don’t really draw. When I am taken with something I take a picture on my iPhone, which I show to one of our craftsmen in India. We come up with a design together.
Q: Your own full collection debuts in a few months, but your dad passed away almost two years ago. Why did you wait so long?
A: It’s actually taken that much time to get my head around the empire. We have 600 workers around the world. Also, when he died there were a few hundred pieces that had to be completed and a few hundred more that we are still creating based on the sketches he left behind.
Q: Can you give us a hint of what your collection will be like?
A: All I can tell you right now is that it will be seven pieces, which are inspired by one of my dad’s masterpieces that is currently on display at the Kremlin.
Courtesy of Christie’s
Pull out the auction paddles: On May 14, Christie’s will hold its Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues (Quai des Bergues 33; 41-22/908-7000; fourseasons.com), featuring more than 250 lots estimated to fetch roughly $80 million.
History is ready to be made. While the number itself is significant—just shy of a 20 percent increase over the $65 million pre-estimate sale in 2013—the reasons behind the uptick, points out Christie’s international head of jewelry Rahul Kadakia, are what truly deserve attention.
Two notable pieces, returning to Christie’s for the second time, include the Belle Époque Devant-de-Corsage brooch (pictured above; estimated at between $7 and $12 million), commissioned by Solomon Barnato Joel, director of De Beers Consolidated Diamond Mines, South Africa from 1901 to 1931. “He asked Cartier to mount his four best diamonds,” says Kadakia. “This brooch is one of few jewels that can boast magnificent diamonds, a delicate design, a remarkable make and a famous provenance.”
The other is the Rajah (estimated at between $3 and $5 million), a brilliant-cut diamond from the legendary Golconda mines in India. If the pedigree weren’t enough, the jewel once belonged to art patron Isabella Stewart Gardner, who wore it as a hairpiece.
Other highlights include the largest flawless fancy vivid blue diamond in the world—weighing in at 13.22 carats and projected to fetch between $21 and $26 million—and the largest fancy vivid blue-green diamond in existence, which will net between $7 and $9 million.
“This salesroom has seen diamonds reaching higher prices than works of art—which is unheard of,” says a Christie’s spokesperson. “It’s these types of stories, usually only found in museums, that make this auction so exceptional. We’re offering clients not just magnificent jewels, but jewels that cannot be found any longer. It’s a very unique opportunity. It’s really an event.” 41-22/319-1730; christies.com.
Courtesy of Miriam Haskell
Costume jeweler Miriam Haskell unveils a capsule collection inspired by the designs of couturier Charles James, who the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala (held tonight, May 5)—and its corresponding exhibit “Charles James: Beyond Fashion”—honors this year.
The designs, presented in black and white, are meant to evoke James’s renowned attention to structure, fabric and silhouette. “He was a visionary; his eye for style and design was impeccable,” says Linda Fialkoff, Miriam Haskell creative director. “He and Miriam Haskell both represented the best of American fashion design during their time; he for his beautiful ball gowns and innovative silhouettes and she for her attention to detail and love of color. They both treasured the art of hand craftsmanship and applied it to their work with precision and dedication.”
Pieces include a radiant collar necklace of Swarovski glass pearls and crystals (pictured here; $4,400), a jet starburst cuff of oxidized silver-plated brass with hand-wired Swarovski faceted crystal stones ($820) and cascading drop earrings of glass pearls and Swarovski crystals ($550).
Continuing the jewelry brand’s history of collaborations (it has paired with Marchesa, J. Crew and vintage boutique Decades), the new collection is glamorous, textural and does what every piece of jewelry aspires to do—engender a bit of change in its owner. “They almost take on a bit of a regal quality,” says Fialkoff. “so we hope that would translate to the wearer.” miriamhaskell.com.
Courtesy of John Hardy
The word “sustainable” is batted about frequently these days, but jewelry brand John Hardy has made it a mantra. In 2007, it debuted the Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo initiative, through which the company began planting bamboo seedlings in Bali, where its jewelry is handmade, to help counteract its carbon emissions. (The plant is known for its intricate root system, which helps hold soil erosion at bay and preserve the natural water cycle.) Since, 900,000 bamboos have gone into the ground—covering an area greater than six times the size of New York’s Central Park—and the conscious approach continues.
Throughout April, in a nod to Earth Month, John Hardy will donate 20 percent of sales from its trademark Bamboo collection to Trees New York (treesny.org), which aims to plant a hundred evergreen trees throughout the city by 2015. Walking the walk, John Hardy executives and New York–based employees will lend a hand at the Pleasant Village Community Garden in East Harlem on April 22—Earth Day.
“Forty years ago, being environmentally conscious was an integral part of our founder’s ethos, who was a radical environmentalist,” says CEO Damien Dernoncourt. “Today, the environment is still a key part of our brand foundation, providing endless inspirations for our designers in Bali.” johnhardy.com.
Pictured here (from left): Wide Flex cuff ($1,600); narrow Flex cuff with black sapphires ($1,200); and wide ring with black sapphires ($595). All made from 100 percent reclaimed silver.
© Victoire de Castellane. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Vito Flamminio
The redoubtable Dior Joaillerie designer Victoire de Castellane is turning wearable art inside out in her new exhibition “Precious Objects,” which showcases sculptures composed of fine jewelry displayed on various objects at New York’s Gagosian Gallery through April 5. “It’s important for me to show how jewelry can be presented when it is not worn,” said de Castellane during the show’s opening on March 11. “I like the idea of continuing the life of these pieces.”
Among the twentysome works in the exhibit, there are diamond earrings and rings set among large silver blocks, an approach inspired by sugar cubes. “It’s about playing with the abstract in that way,” she explains, “creating a sugar cube out of diamonds to show the crystallization.” (Lunae Lumen Satine Mummy Blue, 2013—made with yellow and white gold, platinum, emeralds, diamonds and colored lacquer—is pictured above.) Then there are her signature lacquered flower rings in psychedelic hues that hint at her work at Dior, where she has served as the company’s creative director of fine jewelry for more than 16 years.
This is de Castellane's second collection of sculptural works. She showed her first series, “Fleurs d’excès,” in 2011 at the Gagosian Gallery in Paris; highlights from it are also on display here (her inaugural show in New York). She says the main difference between the two exhibits relies on the use of larger precious stones like diamonds and emeralds in the newer works. “It’s very classical for me,” she says. “But even then I like to play with the extremes.” No carat counts are listed, but the gobstopper-sized gems speak for themselves. Through April 5; 980 Madison Ave.; 212-744-2313; gagosian.com.
Photo courtesy of Shamballa Jewels
It would have been enough if world-renowned beauty Helena Christensen had stopped at supermodeling. But the Danish creative had other aspirations, including photography, philanthropy and, most recently, jewelry design.
Blending her passions for not one, but two good causes, Christensen has collaborated with Shamballa Jewels (shamballajewels.com) on a customized, single-edition bracelet (pictured here) that will be auctioned to benefit Operation Smile (operationsmile.org), an organization that provides surgeries to children around the world with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.
The live auction launches today (March 11) during “The Better” exhibition at Dillon Gallery (555 W. 25th St.; 212-727-8585; dillongallery.com) and will continue online through March 21 at Gavel & Grand (gavelandgrand.com). Bids will start at $12,000 for the exclusive piece, which is inspired by Buddhist prayer beads and decked with gray moonstones, blue sapphires, brown diamonds, a pavé of pink sapphires and Star of Shamballa beads in 18-karat rose gold.
“I wished for the overall feeling to be personal and precious, as if the bracelet was found in your grandma's old jewelry box,” says Christensen. “But I also wanted it to feel timeless and elegant.”
Her second contribution to the auction is a selection of her photographs, the sale of which will benefit Every Mother Counts (everymothercounts.org), Chernobyl Children International (chernobyl-international.com) and David Lynch Foundation (davidlynchfoundation.org). And though both endeavors speak to her creative side, the good they will do is a clear priority. “Supporting any organization that changes a child's life for the better,” she says, “is, in my opinion, worth anyone's commitment, effort and time.”
Courtesy of GRAFF DIAMONDS
Forty-three years ago, jewelry maker Graff put its diamonds on display is a rather unique way, tucking a million dollars’ worth of earrings, bracelets and other pieces into a model’s intricately done hairstyle. The resulting image, “Hair & Jewel,” became a classic, and this year Graff brought it back.
A restaging of the original image highlights a new collection of diamond jewelry, including the pink-and-white flower brooch pictured here (price on request) made of pear-shape stones, rare pink diamonds and a pavéd stem. Other items, like a 10.47-carat blue briolette diamond pendant and a bracelet of 18 emerald-cut diamonds, shine just as bright. graffdiamonds.com.
Courtesy of De Beers
Just in time for the festive holiday season, De Beers has released a new high-jewelry collection called Phenomena: necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings all inspired by the natural intrigue and beauty of water. Divided into five categories to represent different aspects of H20—Stream, Frost, Glacier, Reef, Crest—the designs incorporate all types of cuts (sourced independently of the brand’s mining parent company) from the 12-year-old diamond jeweler’s repertoire.
The 33.4-carat Crest necklace ($480,000; pictured above), for example, is designed to represent the spray of an ocean wave using 289 diamonds, the largest being a 4.08-carat pear-shaped gem. The Glacier earrings ($125,000) use emerald baguette- and princess-cut, round-brilliant and pear-shaped diamonds to create a mirror-like conversion that mimics the cracking movement of ice floes.
While each of the collection’s 16 pieces has a distinct motif, the entire assortment is also customizable, allowing customers to swap out certain diamonds for their own favorites. debeers.com.
Cora Sheibani Creel & Gow trunk show
Creel and Gow, a boutique on New York’s Upper East Side, is known for its inventory of intriguing, offbeat objects from around the world. That notoriety makes it an ideal backdrop for the whimsical jewelry by London-based designer Cora Sheibani, which will be featured in a trunk show at the store November 5 to November 7 (10 A.M.–6 P.M.; 131 E. 70th St.; 212-327-4281; creelandgow.com).
Sheibani’s work ranges from wiry, architectural pieces studded with luminescent gemstones in the Valence Plus collection (pictured here) to abstract cloud-shaped designs to colorful cocktail rings inspired by copper culinary molds. She continually brings new pieces to life (a recently designed set of diamond rings, a first for her, is available through special order) and enjoys the freedom of creating items that both she and her clientele love.
“I don’t often have design deadlines like fashion or retail designers,” she explains, “which means I only make what I really think is great and worth producing.” corasheibani.com.