Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.
Audacious Jewels, Raw, Yet Refined
Brazilian designer Ara Vartanian is conquering the jewellery world with the help of Kate, Naomi, astronauts — and Harvey Nichols
8 Ноября 2016
“KATE MOSS came straight from the airport, so you are not the only one,” said Ara Vartanian as I arrived at his top-floor São Paolo studio, with its precious stones, striking jewellery and — when the Brazilian designer flung open a door — its 30 workers in a room looking over the tree-filled city.
Now Kate and her friend Naomi Campbell no longer have to go to Brazil to track down a piece by Ara.
From this week, there is yet another London destination as Harvey Nichols opens its re-furnished jewellery rooms with Ara Vartanian in prime position. He joins Annoushka, Marco Bicego, Talisman Gallery and six other forward-thinking jewellers to give accessories in the Knightsbridge store a more contemporary, cool, and innovative touch.
But in spite of these international adventures, this Brazilian jeweller’s heart is on one thing: the stones and how to set them.
“I put this in front of me and ask, ‘What am I going to do with this stone? A pendant? A ring? Or a one-side earring?’” he explains. “It depends on how I feel at that particular moment, because every day is different, everything is handmade — I can explore and not do repeat pieces. It is important for me to give a jewel an ingenious design. If I am free to explore, explore, explore — it sometimes goes Boom!”
I ask Ara about the emerald earrings that are hanging like ripe fruit from their narrow top; and enquire about the pair of grass-green oval stones, laid flat in his palm as we circle the workroom.
“It’s a pear shape — there don’t have to be too many ingredients; just a few that are cooked right,” the jeweller says, explaining over lunch the fastidious care he takes not just in how the jewellery is made, but with its provenance and composition, using software developed for future identification of each major stone.
As I look around, this office-come-workshop gives the impression of a stylish living room, with its eclectic collection of objects and furnishings. They are primarily Mid-Century Modern designs of wooden yachts or boat-shaped sofas that have stood the test of time. Or, as Ara puts it, “back in the days that you knew that things were made to last”.
While working on the singularities of each stone and accepting their individuality, Ara also has some signature pieces, as such the “Octopus” and “Shark” rings, and more particularly his concept of turning diamonds upside down or using a hook fastening to spread the weight of dramatically placed stones in one earring.
Back in London, I felt in the new store a strong and deliberate sense of Brazil in the jeweller’s choice of materials for the interior. There was the curve of corrugated stone in the entry area and more concrete worked like wood panels at the back of the display windows. Both reminded me of the architecture of Brasilia. There was also a sense of raw nature in a table designed by Ara in collaboration with São Paulo-based artist Hugo Franca, known for his “Furniture Sculptures” made from wood salvaged from forest fires and logging runs.
This table top — a fine example of the “raw and refined” inspiration of the jewellery — is 1,000 years old. A little younger (but by now “historic”) is Ara’s collection of vinyl and a record player to listen to it.
The jewels are strategically displayed beside chunks of semi-precious stone that glimmer through the glass cabinets.
“In Bruton Place, guys going to the pub down the road suddenly see my window and I plant a seed in the guy’s head,” Ara says. “I wanted to do something that would be enjoyable for them to see — a window of communication.”
Rough-hewn and laser-cut rock crystals compliment a jewellery display at Ara Vartanian's London store
Opal, white diamond, and fancy-grey inverted diamond earrings
Suzy plays with the diamond, white gold and emerald "Hook" earring
The emerald and diamond multi-drop "Hook" earrings
Three-fingered rings in chocolate and white diamonds
Two-fingered rings in fancy yellow and white diamonds
A double-finger ring featuring a 24-carat, fancy grey, inverted diamond as a central stone
Knuckle-dusters made with emeralds, and white and black diamonds
An emerald and diamond collier
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