When the Bavarian Court made German brothers Joseph and Anton Hemmerle purveyors of Medals and Ornaments, they would have had no idea they were beginning a heritage that would continue for well over a century. Still in the family and still creating fine ornaments, you would be hard-pressed to find any jewellery quite like that which Hemmerle's Munich atelier produces.
Striking and bold, their pieces are rooted in the schools of Bauhaus and New Objectivity: a pragmatic, almost practical approach to jewellery that seeks a harmony between function and design. As a result, what you get are pieces such as their bangle in copper, red gold and brown diamonds, which has been realised with the utmost efficiency in form and function, but not at the expense of exquisite design. Precious materials are used to subtle effect, chosen for their earthy qualities. Take the round earrings made of humble iron yet set with exquisite old-cut diamonds, the combination of materials and the use of antique stones are characteristic of Hemmerle.
When Christian Hemmerle, third generation of the family working in the business, was in London this winter he described the house style as "contemporary traditional." To illustrate the point, he showed me two unmounted 18th century cameo carvings that were to become a pair of earrings probably set in brass or copper. The earrings would not be matching, large like all their jewels, yet thanks to meticulous design and craftmanship highly wearable, and a powerful statement of individuality.
The family team of designers at Hemmerle also has a fondness for old cut diamonds, vintage camoes - hard stone over shell for their superior workmanship - and prime examples of highly valuable coloured gemstones, often in mismatched earrings. This practical engagement with bold forms and top quality stones makes for pieces that are steeped in immediacy. Hemmerle has managed to expertly bridge the gap between age-old gemstones and modernist forms, without getting lost in the space between. They make the combination seem natural. Be it the bright colours of their tourmaline and demantoid garnet earrings or the black-finished silver and white gold earrings, every design feels just as it should be.
But it's not all clean lines and smooth textures. One of Hemmerle's standout pieces is the bangle in copper and white gold, with cognac-coloured brown diamonds and tourmalines. The setting of the brown diamonds, mixed with their natural colour, makes for a subtle and scintillating texture that is brought to life even more by the twists and turns of the design.
Every jewellery house lays claim to mixing classical craftsmanship with some of the newest techniques available, but with little fanfare, Hemmerle is doing just that in a completely unique style all of its own.