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Czech jewellers inspired by nature

A new crop of Czech jewellery designers are turning to the natural world for inspiration, producing pieces that are both witty and elegant, as Verity Hogan reports

Verity Hogan

Feature

by Verity Hogan

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The shapes, symbols and colours of the natural world have long been a fertile source of ideas for jewellery designers. Whether due to their use of precious metals and other natural materials or their ability to view the world through the eyes of an artist, jewellery designers often have an innate affinity with the environment. This is especially true in Prague, where several emerging jewellery brands are taking their inspiration from nature to impressive effect.

Hanuš Lamr is one of the country’s most exciting young talents. The designer’s passion for nature and attention to detail is immediately evident in his intricate, often delicate, pieces. From carefully constructed brooches with springtime-inspired colour palettes and whimsical insect motifs to his fir-cone earrings and daisy-chain necklaces, his work is distinctive yet surprisingly subtle – offering perfect snapshots of nature.

Lamr’s somewhat idyllic upbringing in Prague may explain his fascination with the surrounding environment. ‘I had a wonderful childhood, practically unmarked by the worries of the adults,’ he explains. ‘I grew up in Mala Strana, an historic district below Prague castle. This was the mysterious Prague of my childhood, the time when our country was practically isolated, which also had a magical appeal: flaking walls and empty streets almost without cars.’

The designer has also travelled extensively, spending extended periods in Israel and Germany, which also informs his work. ‘I cut my teeth during my stays abroad and realised that there was more to the world than just Prague,’ says Lamr. ‘A longer stay in an environment that is different to some extent will always enrich you in all respects.’

These international influences may also explain why he has chosen to move away from traditionally Czech materials such as glass and garnet in his work. ‘I am not against any materials, but I mainly work with precious metals and stones,’ he notes. ‘But I also have a collection called Fructus, which is a combination of cast plastic and silver. What’s important to me is the idea, and I choose the most suitable material based on that.’

Antipearle, another emerging brand, finds its inspiration below the surface of the ocean. ‘I get very inspired by the underwater world – the mystery and diversity of undersea nature fascinates me!’ explains designer Markéta Dlouhá Márová. Antipearle has carved out a niche for itself by blurring the lines between punk and luxury, combining precious metals with high-quality pearls to create pieces that echo tradition while appearing strikingly modern.

Every piece in Antipearle’s varied collections is luxurious and chic yet slightly subversive. At first glance, a silver bracelet with pearl embellishment appears classically elegant, but look closer and you will see that those pearls are being grasped in the claw of a crab; pearl drop earrings are encased in a spiky sea urchin and a spiked, punkish bracelet is modelled after part of a shark’s jawbone. Every design is distinctive, and sure to spark conversation.

Márová has a personal connection to every piece that she designs. ‘When designing the pieces I mainly take what I would wear into account,’ she explains. ‘I like that sort of Scandi minimalism in dressing, and I think it’s important to combine and spice up simpler combinations with statement designs that lift the whole look. That’s what I love about jewellery.’ The designer is involved at every stage in production, from the initial sketch to modelling, casting and final adjustments. ‘I supervise the whole process so I can be sure I like the output 100% and feel we have made a beautiful piece of jewellery,’ she confirms.

While the Czech Republic is certainly the brand’s home, it can bring challenges. ‘Prague is my home, a gorgeous city full of culture and history, not like any other. But it’s not easy to be a designer here,’ Márová admits. ‘There are a lot of designers and artists here, but the market is very small. The ideal would be to get and gain recognition abroad, too – which, of course, isn’t an easy thing to do.’ Nevertheless, the company has an international outlook, recently finding representation in New York and aiming to be stocked in chic concept stores all over the world.

Designers Zdeněk Vacek and Daniel Pošta have a similarly subversive sense of style to Márová. Their Zorya label uses precious metals, diamonds, pearls and cultivated crystals mixed with more unusual materials such as flaxen ropes and surgical steel to create striking pieces that are luxurious yet avant-garde. Expect handmade pieces, constructed to precise specifications, such as rope bracelets with sprouting crystal emerging from fibres and bright purple peonies emerging from the buds of stud earrings.

From jewels inspired by shark jaws to beetles crawling across brooches, nature continues to influence and inspire the Czech Republic’s most exciting emerging jewellery designers. It’s a trend that looks set to grow and grow.

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