For nearly 40 years, Italian jewellery house Vhernier has been at the forefront of design when it comes to contemporary and unique pieces.
Created with the desire to champion “the jewel does not exist yet”, the jewellery house has been going against traditional jewellery trends since its inception.
After being acquired by the Traglio family in 2001, Vhernier has continued to go from strength to strength and continues to champion the innate craftsmanship from Italy.
To discuss the brand more in-depth and find out more about their latest collection, Emirates Woman sat down with the house’s Deputy General Manager, Isabella Traglio.
Can you talk us through your career with Vhernier?
I would say the passion for jewels is part of my DNA: from what I remember I have always been fascinated by the charm of jewels. Certainly, my family, which has always cultivated a love for beauty, for precious stones and for jewellery, has facilitated my curiosity and my interest. What at first was a light falling in love became a real passion when I started working in the first Vhernier store in Milan, during my university years: I stayed in the back office, polishing the jewels, and was amazed by the stones of which I loved the colours and shapes. So, I decided to deepen this passion and after University I studied Gemmology at the Gemmological Institute of America, in New York. When I returned to Italy, after some experiences in other companies, I joined Vhernier taking care of the management of the workshops, and here I had the opportunity to further refine my knowledge of precious stones and processes, alongside one the founder of Vhernier, Angela Camurati.
The brand first launched in 1984. How has Vhernier evolved over the last four decades?
Vhernier was conceived with the desire to create ‘the jewel that does not exist yet’: contemporary, different from anything else existing and with great wearability.
Back in 1984, the founders were a sculptor and a young woman with extensive knowledge of jewellery and its most sophisticated techniques. Tired of the banality and conformism of the sector, they longed to find a fresh way to approach jewellery, one which would combine the goldsmith’s trade with the shapes and colours of modern, contemporary art. This meant taking the best of the manufacturing techniques that were applied to conventional jewels, and using them to create totally new shapes that feature a roundedness which brings to mind some forms by artist Constantin Brancusi. However, in the 1990s, when the first creations were launched, it wasn’t quite the right time for “unusual” pieces of jewellery, so it remained a niche brand, a favourite among refined connoisseurs. Among these were my family, who fell in love with this jewellery, so special and so contemporary, at first sight.
When the opportunity to acquire Vhernier arose in 2001, my family made the decision without hesitation. Their dream was to introduce the charms of this utterly unique jewellery to as many women as possible while preserving its one-of-a-kind identity. Today Vhernier jewellery, which is always crafted entirely by hand and only by the most highly skilled Master Goldsmiths exclusively in Italy, continues to represent a “form of resistance” to banality.
What inspired Vhernier’s latest collection?
Our jewels are born from incessant research, aimed at creating unseen pieces with a strong identity, that are appropriate for our current timings, and are highly wearable.
This is the case of Calla Whip, the collection of bracelets and rings in which the conical elements – derived from the Calla, Vhernier’s most iconic design – come in matt black titanium combined with rose gold or diamonds and curve gently to wrap around the wrists and fingers. The bracelet, in particular, is our interpretation of the wrap bracelet, a classic of jewellery that was missing from Vhernier offer. Black titanium, with a compact and matt colour and silky touch, is an innovation that we are bringing to the world of jewellery: it is an alloy that gives the metal an intense colour and adds a sophisticated elegance to the jewels.
The freshly launched Palloncino ring is an invitation to fly into a renewed, liberating and serene everyday life. This jewel is an example of our Trasparenze technique, a process skillfully carried out by the expert hands of the Master Craftsmen who create an extraordinary chromatic effect layering vibrant coloured stones and clear rock crystal. The new ring is a reinterpretation of the Palloncino single ear clip which was launched in 1995 and embodies the soul of Vhernier with great originality: the bright colours of the stones, only the most beautiful; the sculptural volumes given by rock crystal, cut and carved by hand; and the diamonds set on the knot and in the ring band, each one and exceptionally luminous.
How does Vhernier set itself apart from other fine jewellery brands?
It is a combination of a unique style, which reflects our desire to create ‘the jewel that does not exist yet’, and of exceptional manufacturing techniques.
We aim at creating jewellery that is aesthetically and culturally relevant, and this translates into shapes that do not bind to the past: new, different, unconventional pieces created following our own codes. And that include unusual materials.
A few years ago, we wanted to create a contemporary gorget: light, soft and totally new. After almost three years of research, we created a necklace made of titanium; the metal is shaped into delicate thin blue coloured waves profiled with the most beautiful diamonds. A unique combination, a never-before-seen piece that epitomises our bold and creative style.
And here comes the other part: every Vhernier piece is totally handmade. All our jewels are exclusively made by our extremely skilled Master Craftsmen, in Italy. In some cases performing ancient and exceptional manufacturing techniques; in other cases, like for the Blue Velvet, we had to invent new ways of handcrafting, such as for setting the diamonds in titanium, or for colouring. Research is long, handcrafting takes a lot of time but it’s what make each piece special, different, and unique.
What is at the core of the brand’s DNA?
The idea of creating ‘the jewel that does not exist yet’ translates into bold shapes, soft curves which allow for exceptional wearability, and mesmerising colours, and these three elements have characterised Vhernier style since the beginning. We often look at contemporary art, sculpture, architecture: not only in terms of inspiration but rather because there is often, in sculpture and arts, an idea of movement, of “something that’s happening” which is the essence of contemporaneity and which we want to incorporate in our creations.
Describe the Vhernier woman.
The Vhernier Woman is a woman who knows where she is heading to and knows how to get there. She wants to please herself; she’s cultured, she has personality and character. She’s definitely a woman of today, in tune with the time and often far ahead. She loves the expressiveness of the Italian style, which she finds in the bold, essential and archetypal colours and shapes of Vhernier.
As an expert in the jewellery space, how would you say the appetite for pieces in the GCC region differs from others?
Customers from the GCC love our style, our Italianity, which is filtered by the rigorous yet understated spirit of Milan, our city. They love our gold shapes and especially our signature Trasparenza technique, where the natural colour of beautiful but opaque gemstones is made more brilliant by the rock crystal such as in our Freccia collection.
While in other parts of the world there is a certain restraint in mixing jewels of different collections together, in GCC we see more boldness, an unmatched ability to mix shapes, materials, colours with great ease. And the final effect is always that of great elegance.
What particular trends do you see people from the Middle East gravitating towards?
Women and men in the Middle East have a great style. Lately, we noticed they’re more and more turning to jewellery which combines unusual materials to gold or diamonds. The proof is the success of our Calla collection in titanium and diamonds or in titanium and gold we launched a couple of years ago.
You’ve clearly worked incredibly hard to get where you are today, where do you get your motivation from?
First of all, we believe women and men will never give up jewellery because jewellery is, and has always been, a sign of distinction, an element of style, an expression of immaterial values that must be shown, shared; the world has changed a lot in these latest months, but the current emergency will not change the perception of the jewel and all its symbolic power; and this is definitely a great motivation for keeping on creating new pieces. Secondly, I can add that the feedback we have from our clients, the pleasure of knowing that they love our jewels, the joy of seeing them worn is a very strong motivation to design the path for what we imagine as the future of the jewel.
As for myself, I can add I get further motivation both from the inside and from the teams I work with at Vhernier. Anyone who is involved with creativity has this need to create: it’s vital, it’s always there, almost like a flame that never ceases to burn and this motivates the creation, the continuous thinking and evolution of ideas. The extremely valuable teams I work with and the support of my family do the rest.
What’s next for Vhernier in 2022?
We will be launching novelties this year: there will be new takes on some of our most emblematic pieces with new materials and colours, and some of our more recent collections will be interpreted in matt black titanium, an innovation we’re bringing in the world of jewellery. And there will be new designs. But surprises remain such only if you can maintain the right privacy, so I prefer not to reveal anything more for now!
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