Style

21 May 2019

Vhernier’s menagerie

The Christie’s Paris sale includes a magnificent turtle brooch by Vhernier illustrating a unique “in-house” expertise: “Trasparenza”, the superimposition of precious stones.

 

 

Vhernier, the Italian jeweler well-known for its abstract pieces, also produces an extraordinary range of figurative brooches with animals, including turtles, caterpillars, crabs, frogs, penguins, ostriches, chameleons and snakes. Every tropical animal, whether the flying or leaping sort, domesticated or wild, has a graphic, streamlined silhouette, as well as carapaces, plumage and fur in changing acidic pop colors.

 

Stylized lines

All these animal brooches have a family resemblance with pieces such as the emblematic Kiss and Abbracio rings: they are imbued with Vhernier’s passion for contemporary art. They are sculpted in varied postures and with an impression of movement to make the animals more graphic and much less natural-looking. The frog stretches out endlessly in a new geometric form; the toucan is reduced to a head shaped like a big comma. There’s little chance of meeting these specimens in a luxuriant jungle!

 

Colors unimaginable in nature

Another nod to contemporary art is the treatment of color, using the technique known as “Trasparenza” developed by Vhernier in the late 1980s. The President of Vhernier, Carlo Traglio, claims the brand always wanted to make the colors dance and produce mirror effects rivalling those of David Hockney’s Californian pools. To do this, opaque, pearly and/or glittering precious stones are superimposed with transparent rock crystal. Convex or engraved, the crystal creates special effects. Each animal needs to be handled and looked at from different perspectives…

 

The magical effect of rock crystal

Placed on one or two fine plaques of carnelian, lapis-lazuli, mother-of-pearl, turquoise or malachite, rock crystal acts as a magnifying glass, making the different layers of opaque colors vibrate.  The animals come to life, and the coats, carapaces and plumage of the toucan, crab, turtle and penguin take on moiré effects and begin to shimmer. It is then impossible to tell the types of stone apart, as they no longer as usual. The final surprise of “Trasparenza”, this “in-house” technique is that looking at the profile, the eye sees only the rock crystal.

 

The result is extraordinarily beautiful. The jeweler is nothing less than a magician.

 

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