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2008 Private Preview: Titan Treasures

Jill Newman

Francis Mertens contends that

you cannot create truly innovative designs if you try to make them from

traditional precious metals. "Gold and platinum are heavy and thus limiting in

what you can make," says Mertens, a former trucking entrepreneur who five

years ago opened his first diamond jewelry workshop in his native Antwerp,

Belgium. Instead of gold or platinum, Mertens prefers titanium, but before he

could incorporate the metal into his designs, he had Airbus engineers teach him

how to work with it.

Last spring, Mertens presented his first titanium designs to

buyers at Bergdorf Goodman; the retailer will launch the Francis Mertens jewelry

collection in its Fifth Avenue store in November. Mertens spent four years

assembling the collection, which comprises voluminous and surprisingly

lightweight diamond-studded hoops and three-dimensional floral earrings,

brooches, and necklaces. He also developed a rhodium treatment that transforms

the inherently gray appearance of the titanium with a finish that mimics white,

yellow, or pink gold.

"Until now jewelry was very flat," says Mertens. "Titanium

gives you the ability to create three-dimensional, sculptural designs that are

still light, feminine, and stylish."

Francis Mertens, available at Bergdorf Goodman, 212.872.2578,

www­.bergdorfgoodman.com

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