Great news: Atelier Swarovski launches its first fine jewelry collection, designed by Matthew Campbell Laurenza. Hand crafted with Swarovski gemstones, the JEWELED GARDEN collection consists of 15 one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, which will be sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman from April 2014.
Swarovski began cutting rock crystal, garnets, agates and synthetic gemstones in 1965. By 1995 Swarovski launched a full line of machine-cut genuine, semi-precious gemstones and in 1997, through the development of advanced computer-aided technology Swarovski perfected the cutting of precious gemstones and added sapphires to the program. Topaz and Zirconia were added to the collection of Swarovski gems in 2004. Matthew was introduced to Swarovski Gems five years ago, and his fascination with the brand’s range of color-matched stones inspired him to create anatomically correct flower and insect sculptures drawn from a “parallel universe to our reality where flora and fauna rule the world”. These magical sculptures were transformed into wearable art to create the Atelier Swarovski by Matthew Campbell Laurenza jewelry collection.
The exquisite collection comprised of eight rings, four bracelets and three necklaces is made with semi-precious and precious Swarovski gemstones including multi-colored sapphires, amethyst, rhodolite garnets, spinel and topaz. Each meticulously handmade piece is set in 18KT gold and highlights an element of beauty found in nature.
ABOUT MATTHEW CAMPBELL LAURENZA
Matthew Campbell Laurenza is an American born, world-renowned fine jewelry designer who splits his time between Asia and the United States. He gathers inspiration for his collections from his frequent travels around the world. When Matthew travels, he makes time to see the sights and experience the culture. Matthew’s MCL jewelry collection is currently in Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Lane Crawford.
Enjoy this interview with Matthew Campbell Laurenza:
What inspired you to create the sculptures?
The concept took shape four years ago. The idea was to create sculptures that were not only intriguing but also showcased the technical proficiency of today’s metal craft. The garden pieces use 80,000 semi-precious gems to almost 200,000 gems and each one is hand-set by master craftsman. The assembly and casting alone for many of the pieces required more than 1,500 individual components which had to be carved in wax, cast, filed and then assembled together to make the final sculpture. On average, each piece took more than six months of a master goldsmith’s time.
What was your process for creating the collection?
As with all my designs, the process starts with an idea that is translated into rough sketches. I then work on clay models to define the proportions and size so that master wax carvers can interpret the designs. Once in the hands of these masters, a piece will turn into an actual sculpture carved completely of wax. During the carving process, I review the prototypes on a weekly basis to allow for any changes and corrections. As an example, the scorpion took almost three months before its final wax was ready for the next stage. Once the waxes were approved, they had to be disassembled into small enough pieces to cast.
We used the lost wax casting method. Each part was labeled to identify its place in the puzzle and then we began filing. Assembly included relying on the original sketches and models. Each piece was laid out like a puzzle and then soldered together. We had to ensure the structural integrity of the sculptures as they needed to be reinforced internally while making sure that the exterior was kept pristine and free of any visual deformities. After reassembly, the sculptures were polished and each hole has to be counted, mapped, marked and measured so that the gems could be cut to size. To determine the colors needed for the gems, we made new sketches for each sculpture; mapping out exactly how each stone would be set.
The setting process involves dressing each mounting to carve a seat for the stone. This process was by far the most tedious since a professional stone setter can only set 400 to 500 stones per day and some sculptures have 200,000 stones. After each sculpture was set, it was sent for a final polishing and plated to add visual interest. Finally, the sculptures were set with rose cut pyrite, lapis and black onyx in special clays.
What is the story for this collection? What materials, color palettes etc. are you working with?
All of the sculptures were inspired by nature and classic works of art. We used Swarovski topaz, black spinel, rose cut pyrite, lapis, onyx and malachite. The color assortment allowed me to produce the designs as I had envisioned them. Colors that were near impossible to source were available in the topaz collections offered by Swarovski.
Which is your favorite sculpture and why?
I like them all for different reasons. The giant sculptures to me are the most technical master pieces as they represent the most heartaches. The finished pieces are like my children and I love them equally jeweled GARDEN SCULPTURES.
What were some of your early influences when you first started designing jewelry?
I have always been intrigued with architecture and how it gives a city its soul. What’s amazing to me is what architects and craftsmen were able to accomplish in the past without all the technology that we have today. Notre Dame in Paris is a classic Gothic architecture and a truly inspiring structure. Other movements that continue to inspire me are the Orientalist, Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements of the late Victorian Era. I currently source many of my inspirations from architecture I see during my travels in Europe, Turkey and the United States. Travel is a limitless source of inspiration.
How do you feel you have evolved as a designer over your career?
As a result of experiencing so many different cultures, especially those in Asia, I appreciate color in a way that I did not at the beginning of my career and have moved into using color as a main aesthetic in my designs. My pieces are more playful now.
What are some key terms that describe the pieces in your collection?
Colorful, precious and complex.
The rings are quite colorful, what was the thought process behind the plating?
To me, anytime we can add color to a piece it adds interest and conversation. So when I learned of this new process of plating I immediately worked to incorporate it in my designs. I am pleased as it gives me new colors to compliment the vast colors of stones offered by Swarovski.
What type of woman do you think is the perfect fit for this jewelry?
A woman who is confident and looking for conversation. She knows that her power comes from her personal style. She finds her style from things that intrigue her in her day to day life. I am honored to be part of her life as she makes my designs fit into her universe.
Thank you, Matthew, for giving us such an interesting insight in your world!
Photos: Atelier Swarovski by Matthew Campbell Laurenza, © Mister Fran