JEW­ELLERY

Egyp­tian her­itage and Ger­man crafts­man­ship are be­ing brought to­gether at the 125-year-old jew­ellery house Hemmerle with dazz­ing re­sults

Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Contents - WORDS SO­PHIE STEVENS

An Egypt-in­spired jew­ellery line gives an­cient mo­tifs a fresh twist

Yas­min Hemmerle’s foray into jew­ellery be­gan long be­fore she met her hus­band Chris­tian, fourth gen­er­a­tion of the Hemmerle fam­ily jewellers with whom she runs the busi­ness to­day. “My paternal grand­mother was a big jew­ellery lover,” she says. “It al­ways fas­ci­nated me how she got dressed, with the out­fit hav­ing to match the jew­ellery. It was like a cer­e­mony.”

Born and raised in Cairo, the Egyp­tian de­signer there­fore notes that her jour­ney into jew­ellery was some­what of a fore­gone con­clu­sion (“I think Mid­dle Eastern women love jew­ellery more than any­one else”), and one neatly ce­mented by an early in­tern­ship with a Parisian dia­man­taire. By the time she met Chris­tian Hemmerle at univer­sity in Lon­don 16 years ago, it made per­fect sense for her to join his fam­ily’s busi­ness once they were mar­ried.

“It’s funny, but I had al­ways wanted to work with my hus­band,” says Yas­min, “My par­ents were friends with a cou­ple who worked to­gether and it al­ways fas­ci­nated me when I was younger. My mother was very cre­ative but she took care of us and didn’t work, so I said when I grow up I want to work with my hus­band.”

To­day the duo over­see Hemmerle along­side Chris­tian’s par­ents, Ste­fan and Sylveli, from the Mu­nich ate­lier where the com­pany has been based since 1904. It was in 1893 when the Hemmerle broth­ers, Joseph and An­ton, took over a tra­di­tional gold­smith’s firm cre­at­ing medals and in­signia for clients in­clud­ing the Bavar­ian Royal fam­ily and the Vat­i­can, a spe­cial­ism the house still con­tin­ues for select awards to­day.

Ste­fan took the reins of Hemmerle in 1970, hav­ing trained as a gold­smith and worked with jewellers in France, Italy and Den­mark, and soon de­vel­oped a dis­tinc­tive style of set­ting unique – and often an­tique – gem­stones and pearls in un­ortho­dox ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing iron, cop­per, wood and alu­minum.

Yas­min re­ceived much of her train­ing from her fa­ther-in-law upon ar­riv­ing at the com­pany. “My fa­ther-in-law took me un­der his wing and we used to travel a lot to­gether, buy­ing from gem shows all over the world,” she re­calls. “After we bought the stones I would sit next to him and we would just brain­storm and de­sign to­gether.”

In­spi­ra­tion can strike from any­where, with Yas­min re­call­ing a book about space she was read­ing to her son one night as the brain­wave be­hind a re­cent pair of ear­rings: “We had these two beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral pearls, big brown but­tons, and ev­ery­one was ask­ing ‘what are we go­ing to do?’ I thought of plan­ets and a galaxy spi­ral­ing around them. In­spi­ra­tion can be any­thing, but as soon as you see our jew­ellery you know it is Hemmerle. It has its own DNA.”

The com­pany cel­e­brated its 125th an­niver­sary last year with two im­por­tant col­lec­tions. Hid­den Trea­sures stun­ningly rein­ter­preted an­cient em­boss­ing stamps stored in the cel­lars of the Mu­nich ate­lier into gem-set show­pieces.“The stamps have al­ways fas­ci­nated me so I was adamant we had to do some­thing with them,” she adds.

The Re­vived Trea­sures col­lec­tion fol­lowed in Oc­to­ber and speaks to Yas­min’s own her­itage, with the jewels fea­tur­ing a se­ries of an­cient Egyp­tian arte­facts ac­quired by the fam­ily from an­tique fairs. “My in-laws and hus­band are big fans of Egypt,” Yas­min hap­pily ex­plains. “The col­lec­tion gives a new life to all the ar­ti­facts we slowly col­lected over the years.”

No­table pieces in­clude a pair of turquoise and alu­minum ear­rings fea­tur­ing two an­cient

Egyp­tian faience fig­urines sus­pended in the cen­tres. The de­ci­sion to com­bine them with turquoise came after ‘play­ing around’ with the draw­ers full of ma­te­ri­als and stones in the Hemmerle work­shop. “Turquoise was just the per­fect colour,” Yas­min says. “Even though they’re very big, they’re very light; you can wear them with jeans and a sweater, or an evening gown. They just work.”

De­spite mu­seum-qual­ity col­lec­tions – Hemmerle de­signs have been ex­hib­ited at in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing the Cooper He­witt, V&A and Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art – it’s im­por­tant to Yas­min that the jewels are worn and en­joyed. “We don’t want them kept in a safe and only taken out for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. Ev­ery day should be made a spe­cial oc­ca­sion.”

An av­er­age of 200 pieces are cur­rently pro­duced each year (with some tak­ing as much as 600 hours), but they are be­com­ing rarer. “We are ex­tremely de­tail-ori­ented, and as we are try­ing to push our­selves, the pieces are tak­ing longer to make,” Yas­min ex­plains. “But we are free to de­cide what we want to do next, and this is al­ways to share our work with jew­ellery lovers.”

RIGHT: HEMMERLE WORKS FROM THE RE­VIVED TREA­SURES COL­LEC­TION BE­LOW: TURQUOISE, ALU­MINIUM AND WHITE GOLD EAR­RINGSBOT­TOM LEFT: CHRIS­TIAN AND YAS­MIN HEMMERLE

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT: BRONZE AND WHITE GOLDBAN­GLE; EMER­ALD, SAP­PHIRE, AGATE, BRONZE AND WHITE GOLD NECK­LACE;DI­A­MOND, BRONZE AND WHITE GOLD RING; A FRIEZE FROM THE EGYP­TIAN TEM­PLEAT THE MET IN NEW YORK, WHERE HEMMERLE HELD ITS 125TH AN­NIVER­SARY PARTY

“Mid­dle Eastern women love jewels more than any­one else”

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