THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF HEMMERLE: HOW BRONZE TOURMALINE 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 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.
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??? Weekend treat: extraordinary jewels! Which one is your favourite from my visit? My latest day trip to Munich was definitely the biggest highlight of 2020 yet! Previewing @Hemmerle creations year after year at @masterpiecefair, @padartdesign and @tefaf I’ve been an admirer of their impeccable craftsmanship, but seeing the magic of it coming to life was extraordinary. Thank you to the House of Hemmerle family for this experience! @LizaUrla #jewelleryface #gemologue
Spanning a rich 127-year history, the German luxury jewelry brand House of Hemmerle was on my workshop bucket list for the longest time and finally my dream came true! Run by the 4th family generation, Hemmerle is a name to know in the jewellery world, systematically chipping away at the conventions of haute joaillerie to create unique works of jewellery art. I was lucky enough to step into their workshop and see their materials and techniques, which have been around for decades and yet are constantly improved and redefined. To me Hemmerle is a mixture of creativity and expertise with a very distinct aesthetic. Read on to discover why!
INSPIRATION BEHIND THE JEWEL
The House of Hemmerle has always been a family affair where creative effort is a collaborative inspiration process. Every team member of this 4th family generation plays a crucial part. In the best traditions of democracy, a unanimous agreement is needed for a jewel to surpass the idea stage and see the light of the workshop.
“With these earrings our inspirations are nails… We have always loved juxtapositions in design, in colours and materials. Our inspiration is the idea of how can something as industrial and heavy as a nail create a floating atmosphere and make an earring appear very light, very airy and very attractive” – Christian Hemmerle
To the delight of the gemologist in me, the creative process at Hemmerle atelier always starts with the gemstones! They inspire the colour scheme of the future piece and as the House of Hemmerle stands for using unusual materials, metals like bronze have become the signature, offering the perfect shade to match the stones.
“We loved the brown colours of tourmalines, so we decided to create earrings with bronze because the colour of bronze is very fitting to the colour of gems” – Christian Hemmerle
Starting with the drawing, the design process of the Hemmerle jewelry is a journey of continuous communication. The workshop was deliberately designed with a space for exchanging thoughts, and the possibilities of bringing the design idea and drawing of the jewel to life are thoroughly discussed. Prototype building starts at a very early stage, surpassing the need for technical 3D sketches of the future jewel.
“As we are making prototypes all the way, it is always a trial & error process, which is quite unique… And it is the beauty of it!” – Christian Hemmerle
Floating gemstones – This is one of my most favourite settings and one of the most complicated to achieve perfection. These Hemmerle earrings are designed to create the impression that the tourmalines are floating in the air held solely by the pointy bronze nails. It is the craftsmanship beyond one’s imagination, where every millimetre is thought through in order to avoid earrings creating a heavy look on the ears. The nails pass through the opening in the hoop and hold the gemstone from the side. Did I mention all of Hemmerle’s creations are one-of-a-kind?
The ‘complement vision’ – Following the principles of Bauhaus design, the House of Hemmerle expands the visual vocabulary of their jewels by experimenting with materials and colours in a way that could be considered avant-garde by some jewellery connoisseurs, but not by me! I keep falling in love with the German contemporary jewelry of Hemmerle and their innovative approach to working with colour, which has already become a signature:
“We use metals that complement the colour schemes, stones and the overall vision of each creation. Compared to simple white gold or rose gold, which have limitations, setting in bronze and patinated copper enables a richer colour palette to play with” – Christian Hemmerle
GEMSTONES & GOLD
To my sheer delight, most of the gemstones used in iconic Hemmerle jewellery are antique, found in the old jewels and given a new home. These beautiful brown tourmalines as well as other gemstones are recut by hand by a trusted partner in Germany, making the gems come to life in a very warm, human and non-computed approach.
Being in the regaining industry, gold used in Hemmerle jewellery is melted and reused. These earrings will have the Hemmerle workshop-made gold attached at the back for stability. Since the bronze makes up for the majority of the jewel, it needs to be of impeccable quality and is industrially produced in a vacuum to avoid any air holes in the metal.
To my surprise, these earrings were entirely crafted by one craftsman! The Hemmerle workshop revolves around two important jobs: goldsmithing and setting. One goldsmith is dedicated to working on a jewel from start to finish, then the gemstone setter gets involved.
The people making the Hemmerle design come to life are skilled craftsmen, who have first undergone a 3.5-year apprenticeship program and dedicated 5-6 more years to working at the workshop to become master craftsmen. Yet, one of the secrets of the workshop magic of Hemmerle is that they never stop developing new techniques and ways. Even the craftsmen, who have been working at Hemmerle for 30 years, still learn and perfect every single day.
Thanks for stopping by! What are your favourite German luxury jewelry brands and designers? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for stopping by! What is your favourite moment from my visit to Inhorgenta Munich, the largest jewelry fair in Germany? Let me know in comments below!
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.
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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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