On some rare occasions, a luxury jewellery house will break away from the confines of wearable jewellery and apply its talent to a different end. Objets d’art, or works of art, encompass a variety of three-dimensional creations that incorporate precious metals, gems and other curiosities. Sculptures, engraved gems, clocks, and boxes are just some of the possible outlets for this marriage between decorative art and jewellery.
Some items, such as cases and mirrors, serve a practical purpose and can be used or even worn, while others are purely decorative – objets de fantaisie or objets de vertu. Their aesthetic form and fine materials signify social stature and a refined taste in the owner. A classic example of this category is the body of work by Peter Carl Faberge and Rene Lalique.
The reason for the rarity of such creations is in the inherent difficulty of production. Shaping precious metals and decorating them with stones requires a lifetime of experience and an equal amount of patience. As a result, even pieces that are a few centimetres in length can take months to finish. When enlarged to the size of figurines and functional objects, the challenges increase exponentially, requiring painstaking assembly from small puzzle-like pieces and endless amounts of polishing.
Despite these obstacles, those few masters who enter into this field are rewarded with a wider audience and greater freedom to create. Volund, a luxury jewellery company from Canada, has taken on this challenge. Nick Koss, the founder of Volund, traces his roots to the Imperial Court of Russia through his great-grandfather, a master jeweller. Koss became inspired to create beautiful items to adorn and elevate living spaces, just as his jewellery embellishes and accentuates the beauty of the person wearing it.
“Certain ideas demand expression in a much more realistic and spatially impressive form. Jewellery is innately miniature and abstract, and it is these limitations that I wished to overcome through the creation of objets d’art.”
For 2017, Volund will be showing The Gryphon, its most ambitious statue to date. Shaped in 24K gilded silver and following the traditional methods of European masters of bygone eras, the gryphon crouches in tension preparing to jump. Its wings glisten magnificently with Ammolite, an exceptionally rare gem only found in Canada, and its chrysoberyl cat’s eyes follow the onlooker with attention.
“I recall reading a story about ancient Scythians looking for gold in the mountains and finding fossilised bones. They thought it was a group of winged lions – gryphons – who lived and guarded this treasure. They passed the story on to the Greeks, who later spread it around the world. This sculpture represents this fascinating discovery and the formation of a legend.”
The ammolite adorning the wings of The Gryphon is an opal-like organic gemstone, composed of the fossilised shells of ammonites, giant molluscs that became extinct over 66 million years ago. Working extensively with Korite, the respected Canadian ammolite mining company, the ammolite is both ethically sourced and prepared.
Koss states, “When people first see The Gryphon, it takes their breath away, transporting them back to an era where no expense was spared to create objects of wonder and beauty fit for royalty. Volund prides itself in being able to realise a project of this magnitude and rarity.”
Volund will be showing The Gryphon for the first time in 20-23 April at Top Marques, Monaco.
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