Known for its sculptural gold jewelry, Vhernier ventures into titanium.
Working alongside Angela Camurati, the production director for Vhernier (646.343.9551, vhernier.com), a team of artisans experimented with titanium for nearly 3 years to forge the Italian company’s newest jewelry designs. Their collaboration has yielded, among other eye-catching innovations, the brand’s limited-edition Blue Velvet series (starting at $30,950 for rings and $43,350 for earrings), including the necklace and bracelet shown above. Both feature blued titanium and diamonds, and the necklace showcases as its dramatic centerpiece a 31-carat tanzanite. The painstakingly handmade pieces—a departure from Vhernier’s renowned gold designs—are available for purchase at the brand’s Madison Avenue shop, one of its two New York City boutiques that opened earlier this year to offer fresh concepts.
“We want to create something that stimulates people,” says Camurati, who more than 30 years ago established Vhernier’s contemporary and sculpturesque style of gold jewelry. “When I started making jewelry,” she recalls, “I wanted to transform the traditional world of jewelry with big, voluminous shapes that are more sculptural, and my guideline was a woman’s body.”
Among the artisans who have lent their expertise to that transformation is Giovanni Beltrami. A goldsmith for 48 years, since he started as an apprentice at age 14, he still makes many of the company’s voluptuous creations. Working in his one-room atelier in Valenza, where Vhernier is based, he creates the brand’s signature pieces, sometimes taking months to make a single design. He and the brand’s other local artisans work much in the same way that goldsmiths here have worked for centuries, liquefying gold, silver, and copper, for example, to produce rose gold that is cooled, stretched, hammered, and shaped using time-honored techniques.
Similarly, Vhernier’s gemstone carver has been shaping the brand’s playful rock-crystal brooches for more than 20 years. Each of his sculptures reveals a joyful vision of animals and such objects as balloons and seashells. A penguin that includes mother-of-pearl, carnelian, and onyx features layers of gemstones that are covered with carved rock crystal to give an illusion of depth. Another piece—a colorful chameleon of jade, opal, sugilite, and rock crystal—is set in 18-karat gold with diamonds. Prices for the brooches start at $4,300.
Camurati’s collaborative relationships with artisans continue to be the basis of Vhernier’s distinctive style. Scattered about Valenza, they prefer to work independently rather than inside a factory, Camurati says. “Our craftsmen are artists, and they don’t want to be hired. They want to feel free.”