On an Eternal Creative Expedition

Silvia Furmanovich
On an Eternal Creative Expedition

By experimenting with unusual materials and gemstones, and picking up techniques through her creative sojourn across the world, Silvia Furmanovich today is one of the finest High Jewellery designers Brazil has to offer. By Vijetha Rangabashyam
I spent about an hour looking at Silvia’s creations on her website and I was speechless for about the next few minutes. How do you write about someone whose passion for design transcends time and space? On the one hand she pays tribute to Japan, where Geishas & Zen Masters come alive in the form of corals and jades and on the other, she has created opulent pieces remnant of an era of the Maharajas, where peacocks dance on a pair of earrings, ginormous elephant lifts its trunk on what seems like a wooden clutch, and blushing pink lotuses bloom on bracelets and necklaces. ‘I am fascinated by craftsmanship, things that are made by hand. I have a passion for techniques by specialized artisans located in different countries in the world, and am constantly thinking about how to apply them to jewellery. In that sense, travelling is super important for me so I can get in touch with craftsmen from all kinds of backgrounds,’ says Silvia.

Her brush with jewellery designing is not something recent. She was a constant audience of her father’s design routine. ‘My father used to be a goldsmith, he used to create beautiful objects by hand, so I always observed him working while I was growing up. It was not until much later that I decided to become a jewellery designer, but coming from a line of goldsmiths definitely set me on a creative path.’

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Silvia has always lived and worked there. The craftsmen who work on her pieces are all from Brazil and that is where the raw materials that go into crafting her beautiful jewellery come from too, ‘I end up finding a lot of the raw materials for my pieces here including an endless variety of precious multi-colored stones.’

It is very hard to miss the fact that one of the biggest inspirations for Silvia remains travelling – the colour palette, motifs and the form are all at the end of the day a figment of imagination, spurred on by memories formed either in Egypt, Bali, Italy, India or Japan. ‘I am attracted to things that look different and unusual – I loved an object that comprised of woven straw that I found in Bali that I transformed into a bracelets by adding 18k gold and diamonds.’ For an artist who has a different way of looking at world itself, the definition of her label’s spirit is very simple, ‘Global, eclectic, made by hand, bold & daring.’ Though she is well travelled and her jewellery is evocative of her experiences in many countries, her soft spot for Japan is obvious. ‘Years of isolation from the rest of the world has created the most unique, distinct aesthetic culture, and I am intrigued by their attention to detail and way of living.’

For a true artist, inspiration lies everywhere – and for Silvia, the world is her canvas and a spark can come from anywhere, like a frieze from an Indian temple, the gilded forms of a Baroque picture frame, woven bamboo pieces from Thailand, flora and fauna from the Amazon rain forest or textiles from Japan. Her latest ode to India, takes even a native like me to an India that I am often not privy to. Inspired by India’s art, architecture and culture, her latest collection draws on the traditional art of miniature paintings. During a trip to New York in 2016, she found herself standing amidst 100 masterful paintings in the exhibition “Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The works on view portrayed scenes of epic and poetic literature commissioned by Rajasthan royalty from the 16th through the 19th centuries, celebrating the diverse styles of Indian painting. ‘Mesmerized by the works, I later embarked on a 40- day artistic pilgrimage through India, including New Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur and Pushkar. In Udaipur, I encountered artisans who have since the 16th century specialized in the painstaking tradition of miniature painting. I then commissioned artisans from Udaipur to create dreamlike natural sceneries, intricate figures and vibrant patterns on scalloped pieces of wood and bone for my newest collection.’

The pieces are painted with brushes of just one or two squirrel-tail hairs, utilizing mineral-based pigments made of crushed gems such as blue lapis lazuli and green malachite, as well as yellow sulfur, black carbon and red iron oxide. Sculpted in silhouettes reminiscent of Mughal architectural elements, the works were then mounted into statement earrings with gemstones echoing the hues of the paints, including emeralds, rubies, sapphires, tourmalines, diamonds and South Sea pearls. Beyond the miniature pieces, other designs in the collection incorporate elements and materials inspired by India’s rich artistic heritage. Thin slabs of inlaid marble were transformed into earrings with precious stones and diamonds. Architectural details of Hindu temples were mimicked in carvings from rose quartz, rock crystal and green jade. Rudraksha beads, a talisman associated with the god Shiva, were used in necklaces and earrings.

Silvia is involved in every aspect of the design process, from ideation to completion. ‘It is very important to keep an open mind, and follow an idea from start to finish. For example, I first discovered small Marquetry boxes and sought out to discover the Brazilian artisans behind them for my Marquetry collection. It is important to follow through. I discovered they were in a state many hours and 3 flights away from São Paulo - almost at the border of Peru and Brazil - but I decided to pursue them anyway. I thought it was going to be impossible to develop Marquetry wood technique on a smaller scale for earrings, rings and pendants, but after months of research and trial-and-error, we managed to get it right. We are constantly perfecting and improving our jewellery.’ The wearer of Silvia’s jewellery has to have a penchant for art, and she must definitely be someone who has this desire to own something unique. ‘My client is someone who already has everything but wants something different and distinct. She is worldly, likes to travel around the globe, and loves one-of-a-kind pieces. I love seeing my jewellery on any client who discovers my work and becomes very passionate about it. Whenever I see someone falling in love with my pieces, I feel my job is done!’

Even the use of metals and gemstones are rather unpredictable in Silvia’s collections. Fire opal earrings from Ethiopia dazzle your eyes while soft corals form the silhouette of a Geisha ring vies for your attention. The allure of yellow gold is captured quite beautifully in one of her older collections, ‘Sun’, while she has espoused her admiration for Japanese Nestukes by mounting them on rings. But one thing that is evident is her love for colours. ‘I adore all kinds of stones – particularly emeralds, tourmalines and opals! Also, always colour, colour, colour.’

For collectors, Silvia’s repertoire of jewellery would be a paradise. It is also an interesting time for creators of fine jewellery, as pieces are picked up not just for their value, but also for the techniques used and the stories they tell. ‘I think high jewellery designers are looking increasingly into surprising their clients, creating things that involve extremely elevated forms of craftsmanship, as well as utilizing rare and unique stones and materials.’

After travelling the length and breadth of the world and paying tribute to so many countries by way of her jewellery, what is next in line for Silvia? ‘I am working right now on my Botanical collection, inspired by flora I found in my trip to the Amazon Rain Forest as well as from antique botanical prints found in Europe and Asia,’ she signs off.

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