An interesting new business model offers artists and designers a rare opportunity to work with precious metals and gems.
Diamonds and platinum are not the usual materials young design and art graduates turn to. A new Dutch jewellery platform - & Sparkles - is handpicking some of the very best international talents and asking them to design jewellery collections in only the very best materials. The costs and risks are on them.
“Normally I prefer to work with other materials because they afford me more freedom,” says Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Sayaka Yamamoto from BCXSY, “but this opportunity was to design in a completely free way using precious metals and gems. When it came to techniques I could decide completely what worked, and that rarely happens with clients.”
Renowned for her conceptual and very poetic designs, Yamamoto has come up with an intriguing first collection for the brand. Titled “Reverse” the pieces literally reverse our preconceived expectations regarding traditional jewellery objects. Instead of metal bands and chains with gem centerpieces, Yamamoto fashioned stone shapes from metal that hang or perch on bands made from gems. It’s a back-to-front reversal. And it works.
“I already knew my materials so for this collection instead of my usual material research I started with a sketch,” Yamamoto explains. “That helped me to connect with my customer’s mindset. From there I stuck to my concept of twisting the traditional approach to classical jewellery with the stones becoming the structure and the structure becoming the stones.”
Yamamoto is just one of the pool of international artists and designers pulled from a range of disciplines who have been invited to join the & Sparkles team. Many of the participating creatives are applying their skills to jewellery for the first time. Fashion designer Melody Deljou Fard for example, product designer Henk Stallinga, and artist Barbara Nanning. The owners say they are always on the look out for new talent.
After the designs are submitted, the & Sparkles team of expert craftsmen are employed to produce the pieces. As the model stands, the pieces are made immediately as an order is placed. This business model frees designers from having to worry about costs and sales. Instead, they receive a commission for each piece sold and have no initial outlays.
An added component of the & Sparkles platform is to allow buyers to customize their selections by working directly with the designers. Every object in the collection can be made in various metals and with any gem. In this way each & Sparkles piece is a one-of-a-kind, bespoke object.