THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF SILVIA FURMANOVICH: HOW THE BAMBOO INFINITE LOOP EARRINGS CAME TO LIFE
We all love the sparkle and lustre of a beautiful jewel, but have you ever wondered how each piece is created from start to finish? GEMOLOGUE is bringing you the craftsmanship series aiming to educate and give you an appreciation of the process and how a spectacular jewel comes to life. While other sectors of industry are losing manual skills to automation, jewellery-making stands true to its ancestry. I particularly love brands that invest in age-old jewellery-making workshops, conserving traditional techniques and perfecting new ones. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF… series will feature design elements, craftsmanship and the labour of love behind every jewel.
Sitting with Silvia Furmanovich in Sao Paulo in her new workshop, I’ve discovered the future of Brazilian jewellery in her gorgeous new bamboo infinite loop earrings. A precious knot of garnets and diamonds set in 18k gold that’s a true marvel.
During her multiple journeys to Japan, Silvia Furmanovich discovered the Japanese art of bamboo weaving and it inspired her to incorporate it into her jewellery. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan and was a natural aesthetic for Silvia to fall in love with.
Silvia wanted to push past the boundaries of jewellery-making and go further than gold, coloured stones and diamonds. Using sustainable materials has always been her style and something she’s always done unconsciously from the beginning. But it’s something that not everyone accepted right away. Using bamboo was not considered precious. It’s a simple material, a humble material, so how could this be fine jewellery? But opinions have changed since then and now you’re seeing natural materials used more and more in unique and innovative jewellery creations.
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“We can’t survive without nature; we need nature. The question is, are we cautious, careful and aware of how much nature we use? Are we depleting our natural resources or are we taking while giving something back?” ~ Silvia Furmanovich
My love affair with Silvia’s jewellery started over 10 years ago in my early twenties. Stepping into her world of jewellery-making and following her imaginations across the continents has never ceased to inspire and delight me. I know you’re going to love these bamboo infinite loop earrings.
INSPIRATION BEHIND THE JEWEL
The Bamboo Infinite Loop Earrings were inspired by the ancient Japanese art of basketry. Silvia was drawn to bamboo after visiting Beppu City in the south of Japan. Here, basketry craftsmanship and bamboo weaving is very famous, a centuries-old technique. There are many spiritual teachings associated with this traditional bamboo craft and Silvia found this inspiring.
“The nature of bamboo is like a representation of life: bamboo is a hard but flexible material that always grows upright and never grows alone. It teaches us about being humble.” Silvia Furmanovich.
Bamboo plays a great part of everyday life in Japan and is revered for its resilience, flexibility and durability. It has been used by artists for centuries to create intricately woven objects and crafts. As part of the plant family of grasses, bamboo typically grows half a meter a day and reaches full maturity after just two or three months. It can live up to 20 years, but its root system lives forever, continuously growing and producing new shoots. A very different plant from traditional wood and trees, which take years to grow.
The Silvia Furmanovich bamboo jewellery collection celebrates the centuries-old technique of bamboo weaving.
After her third trip to Japan and getting to know many artists through the Beppu Museum, the jewellery collaboration with local craftsmen came together in 2020 with the creation of the Bamboo Infinite Loop Earring.
Working with these gifted craftsmen was an easy process as they quickly interpreted the design from the drawings right away.
The precious knot is an important element for Silvia for its beauty and symbolism of union and binding things together. This was the first step in the design process, coming up with various types of knots that would translate well into jewellery. It was a long process and took a lot of trial and error until Silvia came up with the right design and aesthetic for the Silvia Furmanovich Bamboo jewellery collection.
To create the knots, the bamboo is prepared by first slicing it into thin strips and removing the outer layer so the pigment can penetrate the material. A bunch of half millimetre strands are then worked into a knot, depending on the design. It’s a difficult and delicate process that involves a great amount of skill and years of training.
When the bamboo knot is ready, it is immersed in pigmented hot water to give it some colour. After it is completely dry, a special product is applied to the knot to fix the pigment and secure the shape of the knot. Once the knot is complete, the craftsmanship of the goldsmith can begin and the stones and gold are worked into each piece.
One of the beautiful elements of the Bamboo Infinite Loop Earrings is the number of expert craftsmen it takes to produce the finished piece. It passes through many expert hands before it is ready to be worn. From the Japanese craft of basketry weaving, which takes five years to master, to goldsmithing and gem cutting, the finished item is a collaborative effort and truly a work of art. To create a piece like this, it takes about 10 craftsmen.
Sometimes it takes a generation to learn and master the craft Japanese basketry. Special tools are required to work with the bamboo, from super sharp knives to scissors, weights and indigenous tools made especially for the job.
“Strands of bamboo are cut and sliced, often into exquisitely thin strands. The natural material submits to spectacular skill and structural concepts.” ~ Silvia Furmanovich
GEMSTONES & GOLD
The finished knot of bamboo is then paired with Brazilian garnets and diamonds, set in 18k gold and ready to be worn as a one-of-a-kind piece of unique and sustainable fine jewellery. Silvia’s approach to jewellery-making has always been to use natural and sustainable materials like the native woods in her Silvia Furmanovich marquetry collections. She prefers working with craftsmen over machines, so her jewellery has the look and feel of fine handmade jewellery, created with love and expertise.
“In my jewellery work, I tell the truth. I show all the parts of the process to communicate that my jewellery is in some way sustainable.” ~ Silvia Furmanovich
I am extremely happy to announce that my new jewelry book – GEMOLOGUE: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips – is now on Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s the first book of its kind solely dedicated to jewellery.
GEMOLOGUE jewelry blog by Liza Urla is a celebration of fine, fashion and vintage jewellery featuring talented jewellery designers, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews. This jewellery blog’s goal is to encourage and educate about jewellery online in a fresh and original fashion to inspire women and men across the globe in a fashion and travelling context.
Jewellery blogger, writer Liza Urla, the founder of GEMOLOGUE, is a London-based and NYC-educated gemologist, who has travelled to and lived in many countries. She is now one of the most influential digital jewellery tastemakers. Her jewellery influence has been acknowledged by Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
*Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla. All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.
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