At the pinnacle of Stenzhorn’s creations are its one-off high jewels, which combine the house’s craftsmanship with design flair and a large dose of creativity. Behind the glittering gems is a team of dedicated designers, gemologists, stone cutters, casters, polishers and gem-setters, all perfectly synchronised in Stenzhorn’s state-of-the-art, vertically integrated production centre.
A Teutonic zeal for perfecting techniques such as the invisible setting is what differentiates Stenzhorn and allows its designers to show precious gems in new and exciting ways. This is best seen in the Ovidio collection, which takes the highly precise skill of invisible setting a step further and transforms this traditionally rigid style into a fluid mesh that ripples with ease.
Inspired by Ovid’s Ancient Greek myth of creation, where Prometheus creates human beings from clay, hard stones become fluid and metal yields to form new shapes. Diamonds, sapphires and rubies drape around the body with the ease of a fabric thanks to a clever system of precision metalwork hidden beneath the tapestry of gemstones. Each stone is cut one by one and grooved to fit onto rails that hold the bottom half of each stone in place. Each of these individual units is then joined to one another using flexible links, creating a seamless surface of stones. With no metal visible between each stone, the illusion is, quite literally, of a carpet of gems.
Having mastered the seemingly impossible with Ovidio, Stenzhorn casts its net wide into the world of folklore and fable to bring us its Fairy Tale jewels. Seeking inspiration from around the world, we start with the European classic Snow White and Rose Red, which delves into the romantic and often bizarre world of the original Brothers Grimm tales.
The sisters Snow White and Rose Red are rewarded for bravery and kindness in the face of adversity with a prince charming apiece, despite the nobleman’s guile and a conniving, thieving dwarf. Snow White is represented by an all-diamond rose choker, its petals shimmering as if coated in morning dew. The soft contours of the bud are the perfect surface to show off Stenzhorn’s precision-setting skills and the clean light of invisibly set carré-cut diamonds that form the petals, contrasting with the brighter fire of a pavé of brilliant-cut diamonds on the leaves. Rose Red, meanwhile, is in full bloom, her petals unfurled and resplendent in rubies, the intense red fire cooled by marquise and brilliant-cut diamonds.
Looking to Asia, the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is the ancient Chinese story of Altair and Vega, two stars who fall in love, despite it being against the law to do so. Altair is turned into a man and banished to earth to toil as a humble cow herder while Vega is destined to weave clouds in the sky for eternity. A chance reunion brings the lovers together for a fleeting moment before the Heavenly Empress creates the Milky Way as a barrier to separate the ill-fated couple.
Years later, feeling pity for the lovers, the Empress recants, and on the 7th day of the 7th month each year, a bridge in the sky created by magpies unites the lovers. Fifteen rows of brilliant-cut diamonds represent the galaxy in a stunning and highly flexible choker embellished with pear-shaped diamonds, which breathes new life into this much-loved story.
The Noble Ones is a magnificent quartet of four flower jewels inspired by the Chinese symbols for the four seasons. Each necklace features an invisibly-set bloom in rubies or sapphires, each with a white-diamond cascade representing water.
Spring is an orchid, (above), summer the bamboo, autumn is a chrysanthemum and winter the plum blossom. Despite the impressive size and complexity of each flower, they are set on flexible links of diamond-set bamboo links. Particularly notable is the chrysanthemum with dozens of slender crescent petals covered with invisible set rubies.
The Goddesses Venus, Luna, Aurora and Diana (above) are captured in four necklaces of diamonds, sapphires and rubies that shower the neck with bright bursts of colour. The light structures of each necklace are achieved thanks to round-link chatons that join the stone settings to each other. This chain-like construction allows many carats of gems to ripple over the skin, and the flexibility gives these gems a young and less formal look than you would normally associate with gems of this value.
Look out for more of Stenzhorn’s annual high jewellery highlights, each with an intriguing story of its own, which bring together the best of quality craftsmanship, fine gems and a touch of fairytale magic.