TALK OF THE CLUBHOUSE
Herbs & High Jewelry
A Chat with Members Christian & Yasmin Hemmerle
Yasmin Hemmerle: That’s an interesting one, I am tempted to see this heaven more as a recurring moment in life rather than a location or a specific memory. Jewellery heaven for me is when you see a person truly derive joy from the jewels they wear and when the pairing becomes somewhat of an electrifying moment. That positive impact and energy that occurs are truly dynamic. We very much believe in the joy imbued in jewellery and seeing the wearer radiate is a bit like a slice of jewellery heaven.
Christian Hemmerle: Infused Jewels was first conceived 4 years ago and work started then with our initial brainstorming around creating a bespoke herbal tea blend, reflecting on Munich as a centre for homoeopathy since the discipline developed at the turn of the nineteenth century. During this timeframe along with the rest of the world, we experienced rather life-changing circumstances which made us contemplate and even further strengthen the focus of the project. During the pandemic, we experienced life more meaningfully and we where are all invited to reflect on our individual and collective wellbeing, all aspects that truly shaped the creative journey we were undertaking. With a strengthened sense of community in mind, the full spectrum of the project started to unfold with the central message being that of slowing down and savouring every moment in life.
Yasmin Hemmerle: We felt that tea would be our central pillar for the project and the driving force for our creativity as we wanted to reflect on the diverse properties of herbs for enhancing health and wellbeing. A unique tea infusion accordingly started to be developed and formed the kernel from which the Infused Jewels project grew. We started by studying a plethora of botanical books and becoming immersed in abundant botanical gardens, and sampling a rich variety of flavours during this journey. It was very important for us to anchor the project with a context that was both close to our heart and true to our identity and which would also resonate with a wider audience. From East to West, spanning countless cultures, tea carries a ubiquitous, ritualistic significance, evoking a reflective moment for rejuvenation and sparking a spirit of conviviality and togetherness, all elements which are fundamental in the messages imbued into the project.
Christian Hemmerle: With the tea ingredients selected, through innovation and imagination each element bloomed into a handcrafted, tactile jewel with a unique blend of materials. Each creation had its own set of challenges yet one that we had to really learn and reflect through the creative process was the Cinnamon brooch which incorporates natural cinnamon sticks alongside a Fancy Deep Brown-Yellow diamond with minimal use of bronze and white gold. We experimented with real cinnamon sticks for months before we were able to resolve the design in a way that seemed effortless and that is stable. The design we had in mind when we started working on this was focused on recreating cinnamon in sculpted bronze which was completely altered through the process as the natural beauty of cinnamon bark became the main component that eventually sparked this creative outcome. We are recognized for our use of unorthodox materials in jewellery and this brooch truly pushed our imagination as to what we thought was feasible. Such experiences truly define our journey and help us pivot in our work and we are truly grateful that our atelier is always up for such challenges.
Yasmin Hemmerle: The idea of collaboration came together quite naturally as with every creative decision in our process. The first element was as mentioned above to work with Romana Auth on the tea blend which constituted the central axis of the project. Then whilst developing the creative approach around the project we first came up with the idea of creating a bespoke porcelain tea caddy with the renowned Bavarian manufacturer, Nymphenburg. Further whilst developing each jewel we very organically conceived the idea of working with Nymphenburg also on the orange blossom brooch which incorporates the finest bisque porcelain. We then set upon the challenging task of deciding how we are to commemorate the project which after many stimulating ideas, led us on deciding to commission a modern-day fairytale that would be illustrated and published in a book. The pairing of enjoying tea whilst immersing oneself in the universe of a book soon became the right context with which we wanted to express the key messages of the Infused Jewels project. The journey of finding an author and illustrator for the book began. Working with Greta and Rosanna following discussions with creatives from around the world, became natural, mutually respectful, and creatively inspiring and our collaborations enriched our perspective of the project in ways we did not envisage when we first conceived Infused Jewels.
Christian Hemmerle: Following a period of heightened focus on a special project we aim to let our minds and creative journey take its course freely without any set expectations or timeframes. We continue to create our one-of-a-kind pieces of course which aren’t tied to a specific theme or idea and each excites us in its own way, allowing us to maintain an element of surprise in our everyday. Such special projects come about when our senses and our creativity is sparked in a manner that cant be ever calculated or anticipated.
A Walk in the Woods
A Chat with Member Levi Higgs
How did you get your start in jewelry?
I worked in a small jewelry shop in Seattle, and then moved to NYC for my masters program at Parsons in the history of decorative arts and design.
What drew you to David Webb?
I love working for an American heritage brand, and I thought that there were so many good stories to tell from the archives.
The most meaningful piece of jewelry that you own?
The most meaningful is perhaps my Van Cleef Virgo pendant from 1971. I sought it for a long time, and finally one came to me in the most perfect way possible so it just felt very “meant to be.”
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in northeastern Wyoming, in the valley of the Big Horn Mountains.
Did you spend time walking in the woods as a kid?
Definitely, my family was always going on little hikes and trails with a picnic in tow.
Do you still walk in the woods?
Yes I do, I love it. When everyone else is off to the beach, I’m always saying let’s go find a lake and a trailhead and walk through the woods.
Favorite national park?
I wish I had been to more of them to say! Yosemite is definitely high on my list, and I need to spend more time in the desert in the southwest.
What is your favorite piece from the exhibition?
I love the Hoot Owl Brooch with the amethyst belly and green and white enamel.
What animal that is not a part of the exhibition would you turn into a jewel?
I think the world needs more hawk jewelry.
The project started in 2019, did the covid-19 pandemic alter the direction or give the project new meaning?
After the pause of the pandemic, we definitely were grateful that the theme was so evergreen, pun intended. When we were getting it ready for fall of 2022, it felt just as refreshing and sumptuous as it had in the summer of 2019.
What drew you to work with Noah Kalina on the film?
He had done this gorgeous book called Cabin Porn of beautiful woodsy cabins and I knew that he would really get the aesthetic we were going for perfectly. He also lives upstate and is really immersed in nature.
Did you bring in inspiration from any other archived materials?
We were inspired by the Coty Awards brochure and David Webb’s bio which is also in the exhibition and catalogue.
What spoke to you about this specific film?
I loved the 1964 film because of the sort of bizarre take on showing high jewelry in a very natural setting, and with a bit of irreverence.
Why was A Walk in the Woods the inaugural theme?
Animals are such a strong narrative throughout David Webb’s work, and the film elements made it feel fresh since no one has seen them ever before.
Favorite visual from the exhibition that was not a piece of jewelry?
The Noah Kalina images in nature of course, and the photograph of Gloria Vanderbilt, on loan from Anderson Cooper.
Is there a piece that didn’t make the cut that you would have liked to have exhibited?
There’s a double headed fox bracelet that I’ve seen out in the world that I’d have loved to include but we didn’t have enough other fox jewelry to make it a pillar of the exhibition like other animals. Maybe one day!
What inspires you the most about this exhibition?
I’m inspired to be able to tell a fully rounded story about a theme people may think they know well from David Webb (animal jewelry) but show that there is more depth and breadth to it than they ever imagined.
3 words you would use to describe the exhibition?
Lush, Tranquil, Transcendent
As you prepare for a new season of Gem X, stock up on our favourite Gem X Tattoos so you can wear and bear your club pride. Keep in touch in between events by following us on Instagram @gemxclub, updating your club profile so other members can easily find you, and joining our Slack channel.
Can’t get enough of learning about jewelry? Pop some popcorn and settle in with our archive of more than 100 episodes of Gemflix. Perfect accompaniments for this month’s events are Exploring the David Webb Archives, Diamonds: From Rough to Romance with De Beers, Cartier’s Untold Stories with Francesca Brickell Cartier, From Cordoba to Cartier: Jewels From the Department of Islamic Art, and Stories of Pearls With Melanie Georgacopoulos. If you missed our latest Gemflix trip to sunny Tucson and the dazzling collection of the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, be sure to catch it here.
If you have questions, feedback or ideas, we would love to hear from you. Write our team, Lin, Heidi, Gabby, Sana and Chris, any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT'S COMING UP...
NYC | Wednesday, September 7th
GEMS & STEMS with HERITAGE AUCTIONS – As the fall auction calendar heats up, we are pleased to invite you to a special evening of jewels and cocktails hosted by Heritage Auctions.
Dallas | Tuesday, September 13th
Major Jewels in Dallas: The Cartier and Islamic Art Exhibition – Join us as we descend upon Dallas for the exhibit’s finale in a special Gem X Texas excursion. After seeing the jewels up close, our visit will culminate in an evening museum talk, titled Cartier Jewel: From Inspiration to Creation. It will feature Marion Fasel, jewelry historian and Founder of the Adventurine, and DMA co-curator, Sarah Schleuning.
NYC | September 21st & 22nd
A WALK IN THE WOODS WITH David Webb – On September 21st and 22nd, David Webb will open the doors of its Madison Avenue showroom for two private Gem X evenings to experience its first in-house exhibition, A Walk in the Woods: David Webb’s Artful Animals.
London | Saturday, September 24th
“The Art of Movement” with Van Cleef & Arpels – We hope you will join us on Saturday, September 24th for a very special afternoon of jewelry. Lise Macdonald, who has worked with prominent museums around the world and helps lead the Van Cleef & Arpels Patrimony collection, will take us on a private tour of the exhibition, sharing the many stories behind the jewels and the jeweler.