Hand-Painted Jewels: A Time-Honoured Art Form Made Modern
January 21, 2022
by Katerina Perez (www.katerinaperez.com/articles/hand-painted-jewellery-time-honoured-art-form-made-modern)
To realise their ideas, contemporary jewellers have a huge array of modern techniques at their disposal, some of which are almost as complex as the structure of spaceships and microsurgery. Nevertheless, many designers remain faithful to traditional and even archaic methods. What motivates and inspires them? This is the question I posed to the founders of 7 brands who paint their jewellery by hand like Victorian jewellers.
Let’s start with a small historical digression and go back to the reign of Queen Victoria. If you look at paintings of her and other members of the royal family during public holidays, you will notice many brooches, pendants, earrings, bracelets and hair pieces. Such a colossal demand for jewellery created fertile ground for the rapid development of jewellery art: jewellery of the Victorian era, which spanned six decades, is distinguished not only by a variety of styles, motifs and designs, but also by techniques.
While attending lectures on art history, the designer got acquainted with a unique enamel technique that originated in Russia two centuries ago. It took her years of searching to find a master craftsman, one of the finest in the world, who could personally hand-paint the jewellery she conceived.
“Inspired by the mesmerising and mysterious language of symbols and their magical properties, I first started making Meanings jewellery as customised talismans, and over time they grew into a collection,” explains Penelope. “Only a few years later, a certain set of universal symbols formed a capsule collection intended for women of all generations, races and religions. Hand-painted enamel symbols, individually created in Russia by a famous icon painter, are designed to attract harmony, security, love and positive energy. A new code for general spiritual communication.”
These symbols are the peacock, an icon of vision, integrity and beauty; the scarab beetle – a symbol of the beginning, the heavenly cycle and rebirth; the butterfly, which is a token of transformation and openness to the world; and the hummingbird with its representation of balance, happiness through honesty and freedom through love.