Continuing my exploration of the stories behind some of the world’s most time consuming, difficult and elaborate fine jewellery creations; I turned to artisans from across the globe to share the evolution of their most challenging pieces.
Another jeweller for whom the business of finding the perfect materials can almost be as time consuming and labour intensive as the actual design process itself is the Greek designer Theodoros. “The ‘Apache’ earrings took 9 weeks to finish from the moment I put the stones on the bench. However, it also took close to a year to source enough of the long, pencil cut diamonds.”
Indian jeweller Neha Dani who is famed for obtuse, organic designs spent almost a year on her masterpiece Amaranté cuff bracelet; created through an exceptional expenditure of time, skill, cost and labour. 12,000 fancy pink diamonds and 18 certified vivid purplish pink diamonds - totalling 72.83 carats - adorn the 68 petals on the 18 flowers. Each of these is completely unique, contributing to the extraordinary process of this jewellery piece. “It would’ve been far simpler - and less costly in production - to create a few templates of petals, or even whole flowers, and simply repeat these across the design. The manufacturers hated me because I refused the option of replicating certain leaves!” admits the designer.
Not only this, but the setting and carving of the huge amount of fancy pink diamonds in this piece required intensive skill - and $100,000 in labour alone, without considering the value of the diamonds themselves. Neha explains: “one person can only set around 50-60 diamonds a day maximum when they are this fine, so that means it took around 4-5 months just to set the stones.”
Most of the jewellers in this article have centered around gemstone heavy design, but Ilgiz Fazulyanov focuses on a different decorative technique. The Russian jeweller specialises in creating hand painted hot enamel jewellery, and is recognised as being among the most skilled artists of this kind in the world.
However, it was when practising another jewellery design principle that he had the most difficulty: "The jewel which took the most time to complete - about 7 months of work - was my ‘Fishes in the Moonlight’ crest. Carving on the horn and opal, and the subtleties of working with them were unfamiliar to me. Luckily, I had a reserve of horn and opal, because I ruined two horn plates- they cracked during the cutting. I learnt that while working with horn, it must be kept in a wet place, so the material doesn’t dry out and crack. Then, I had to consider that creating a carving in deep relief in the opal must be done in a way which works with the directions of the crystalline formation of the gem. From the technical point of view, it was one of the most sophisticated jewels that I have ever created.” The Russian artist’s tribulations with this jewel were recognised by its inclusion in an exhibition at the Kremlin museums.
The most highly regarded artisans, craftsmen and visionaries in every artistic discipline demonstrate determination, tenacity and sheer force of will which many of us find hard to comprehend. What separates these jewellery designers is their belief in the beauty and significance of their creations, and that these must be completed and displayed to the world, at any cost.