In the world of high jewellery, there has always been an inextricable link between a gemstone’s desirability and its durability.
Diamonds, ranking the highest on the Mohs scale of hardness, are prized for being almost indestructible. It’s that quality that makes them a universal symbol of love, the epitome of beauty. In other words, perfect. That’s the ideal that jewellery brands, with all their talk of flawless cuts and the clarity of gemstones, strive to achieve.
But these days, there’s another kind of beauty that is taking hold in jewellery — one that is rough around the edges, imperfect. Consider the fact that more brides would now choose the soft, brittle and sometimes unshapely pearl over a diamond for their engagement rings, or that more jewellers are crafting designs with rock crystals instead of traditional gems.
Italian jeweller Pomellato challenges our perception of beauty even more with its new high jewellery collection, Kintsugi. You might recognise the name: it’s Japanese for “joining with gold”, and it refers to the centuries-old art form of mending broken ceramics with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum.
“I immediately felt an affinity with the spirit of this ancient art,” shared Pomellato creative director Vincenzo Castaldo, who first encountered the craft on a trip to Japan two years ago. “The idea of celebrating your scars as a sign of strength through healing is a very contemporary philosophy. I was drawn to the elegance of Japanese thinking and the idea of something broken becoming more precious through this ritual of repairing.”
And so he applied it to jewellery: he took broken shards of semi-precious gemstones like jet and kogolong, which would usually be discarded, and had them repaired by a master kintsugi artist in Tokyo. The gems, imbued with a new life, were then brought back to Pomellato’s Milanese workshops and crafted into rings, earrings and pendants.
“The aim is not to create perfection but rather an individual and spontaneous result,” shared Castaldo. “Each jewel is truly one of a kind, and this to me is the real essence of precious jewellery.”
Upcycling — the practice of taking something that is old, used or broken and turning it into something precious — is not something you often see in jewellery. With its new collection, which is made with 100% Fairmined gold, Pomellato is not just challenging ideals but paving the way for eco-conscious luxury jewellery.
The world of luxury is already undergoing a transformation, what with high fashion brands transforming recycled plastic into designer bags and big-name jewellers like Cartier taking pains to restore vintage watches. All of this is to appeal to the majority of shoppers, who now care about where and how products are made, as well as how it affects the planet.
“Repurposing rather than discarding is so relevant to our own lives and our commitment to sustainability,” stated Castaldo. He’s right, and it’s high time that the concept is embraced by high jewellery.
Header photo credit: Pomellato