NM 私は、やわらかくて虹色を放つパールがとても好きなの。パールは数々のおとぎ話に出てくるでしょう？ 例えば『千夜一夜物語』、マハラジャの空想やロシア皇帝の暮らしとか……私はいつもそんな話にうっとりしてしまうの。その上自然からの贈り物、本来の美しさを表すには何ら手を加える必要を感じていないわ。
K18レッドゴールド・シルバー・パール・トルマリン・天然真珠・ダイヤモンド リング。 Ring in 18K red gold and silver set with natural pearls, tourmalines and diamonds.
K18レッドゴールド・シルバー・天然真珠・スピネル・ダイヤモンド リング。 Ring in 18K red gold and silver set with natural pearls, spinel and diamonds.
K18レッドゴールド・シルバー・天然真珠・ピンクスピネル・ダイヤモンド イヤリング。 Earrings in 18K red gold and silver set with natural pearls, pink spinels and diamonds.
“I believe that I am a creative jeweller, who likes nice things and revels in technical challenges. This is why my creations are perfected in every way, not only their visible parts”, Swiss fine jeweller Nadia Morgenthaler says. Although not nearly encompassing all of her talents, this quote sums it all up. How to reconcile beauty with complexity is her preoccupation, and as for any accomplished artist, this stems from an ebullient imagination. The whole creative process (design and making) is what occupies her mind and time in her quest to achieve perfection. Although subjective in regards to aesthetics, this notion can certainly be measured when it comes to quality, and there, Morgenthaler shines. At the helm of her own atelier, one of the most skilful in dealing and experimenting with the many challenges of high jewellery, she along her colleagues, incessantly breaks out of the mould. Behind the romantic softness of her current creations (although she eagerly points out that this is not set in stone as her aesthetics are not bound to one single concept) resides the utmost level of craftsmanship, alongside sophisticated pastel hues, ingenious mixing of metals, and rare natural pearls. This list of exquisite attributes defines the essence of Morgenthaler’s creations, jewellery with the hallmarks of haute joaillerie minus the often-intimidating aura attached to it.
Olivier Dupon – What makes you passionate about jewellery design?
Nadia Morgenthaler – First and foremost creative freedom! I am fascinated by how thought processes develop, from an abstract idea that emerges in my brain and triggers an emotional response, via the first draft sketch through to the crucial final making phases where it becomes a 3D tangible item, for which gemstones and pearls have been carefully chosen and calibrated. The end result is to achieve perfection in terms of the proportions, the thickness, the finishing and details. It is only when the final product is a success that I am engulfed by an even greater emotion than the one I felt at the beginning.
OD – Have you had a defining moment / an epiphany that prompted your career?
NM –I was 15 when I discovered the art of jewellery making and designing and it was during my first year at the Geneva École Des Arts Decoratifs, in which I enrolled initially to become a graphic designer. Growing up in a family that had nothing to do with the jewellery world, I had no idea that one could become a jewellery maker; I did not even know it existed. This realisation made me change course, and this is precisely when I decided that I would become a jeweller.
OD – Prior to jewellery designing, what was your background?
NM – I primarily trained to design and make jewellery. That said I have always drawn and created small objects. It comes from an urge to make things with my hands and let my imagination wander. Black and white photography has also been pivotal in my career: how to compose an image, achieve a balance between the black and the white, the same way one has to play with empty spaces in a jewel. Uncannily the way a photograph is revealed by a chemical process involving silver is the same as the way – also by silver oxidation – that my jewellery pieces reveal their ultimate aspects.
OD – What is the importance of ‘authenticity’ in your work?
NM – It Is essential; I cannot contemplate working other than with total authencity. Nothing matters more than being in tune with my own values. It is true that today’s excessive pressure on exposure (digital and all) does not help one stay authentic; we are indeed bombarded with concepts and ideas that could influence us. That is why hand working is so important to me: this how I can reconnect with my true self.
OD – What is the best memory you associate with your creations?
NM – The emotion I feel each time I see a finished piece, all the more if it is a resounding success. The satisfaction to have achieved beautiful jewels that then are brought to life by my clients.
OD – What personality traits do you have that have led you to where you are today?
NM – Persistence, creativity, a sense of perfection, technical acumen and sensitivity.
OD – Is there still a ‘link’ between your past as a contemporary / conceptual jeweller and your present as a high jeweller?
NM – Yes indeed. There is continuity in terms of the creative approach. I have applied the same processes in both areas. With contemporary / conceptual jewellery, wearability or the value of the materials are not paramount. There is also a drive to push the boundaries of traditional techniques. This has definitely broadened my horizons and helped me devise clever technical solutions. The sky is the limit; there is always a solution.
OD – How would you best describe your creative philosophy?
NM – I have to be touched by what I create, this is essential. I endeavour to seek beauty, perfection and sensitivity!
OD – Is it possible to totally free-flow / experiment or does one always need to follow certain rules?
NM – Of course one can free-flow, however this requires some sacrifices and it is also quite time consuming. That said total creative freedom is very important to me, and that is why I have organised my work in a way that I can keep that freedom.
OD – How have your work aesthetics changed/evolved since the beginning?
NM – It has been a steady process, just as when one builds a tower one brick at a time. Each new creation provides new sources of knowledge, new ideas, which all help evolve my aesthetics. It is on going and perpetual.
OD – Would you agree that your jewels are high jewellery pieces for everyday?
NM – For me it does not matter. What is important is that the person who wears them feels good and free to wear them whenever she feels like it. No matter what day or time of the day it is.
OD – Can you please tell us more about your atelier?
NM – My atelier is well known for the superlative quality of its work. My colleagues are ingenious experts, who are also very demanding about their own work. This is a level of quality that I expect from my partners and myself. Our workshop is a laboratory where we seek solutions. It was created 20 years ago and we can create truly exceptional jewellery pieces.
OD – Is there a particular technique that is a signature of your work?
NM – Paying attention to every aspect of a rendition, not just the visible ones. It is important to follow through an idea into every little detail.
OD – Blackened silver, red gold…. Can you tell us more about the difficulties and advantages of mixing metals?
NM – The cons reside in the fact that it is difficult to mix the two metals. Their melting point and tension are very different so that it causes them to distort. It is also impossible to cast and so it is very time consuming. The pros are more cosmetic when it comes to the oxidised silver. The black hue adds character and enhances the gemstones. It also evokes an old world vibe. As for red gold, it reinforces the strength of a piece and helps finish it well. By contrast its colour also underlines the motifs.
OD – Although very delicate and pretty, each piece is a feat of craftsmanship. Do you have to educate your collectors so they understand this duality?
NM – Yes indeed. It is vital to communicate this aspect since it is the very quality of our work that confers its beauty and uniqueness to the jewel. Also all this intense craftsmanship takes time and although this is the very reason why the jewellery turns out to be highly precious, time is money.
OD – Could the aesthetics of your creations be defined by the concept of neo-classic romance? (Soft and sophisticated colour palette, pearls, mille grain setting, etc)
NM – I do not think my aesthetic can be defined by a concept. It is just my creative style, and I don’t feel like labelling it since it keeps evolving. What my creations evoke today may be very different from what my future creations will evoke.
OD – By the way, where does your love for natural pearls come from?
NM – I do not really know. That said, I have always been fascinated by pearls, their softness and iridescence. They belong to fairy tales, the one thousand and one night reverie, Maharaja fantasy and Russian tsar decorum…they have always made me dream. Besides it is a gift from nature, no need to cut or process it in order to reveal its intrinsic beauty.
OD – Is there a historical inspiration behind your creative style?
NM – There must be more than one source of inspiration. When I was younger, the art of the Middle Ages interested me, and above all its representations in painting, clothing and jewellery. That said I am also inspired by metallic constructions (industrial buildings) and the 1900s architecture.
OD – In this day and age of ultra availability and immediacy (social media), how can one preserve confidentiality and rarity?
NM – It is rather difficult to stay confidential these days. One should keep some things hidden. In short, this brings us back to the issue of authenticity, since the latter is hardly compatible with immediacy.
OD – How do you position yourself next to other independent private high jewellers?
NM – I do not compare myself to other jewellers. I simply strive to create beautifully executed pieces and keep my independence while doing so.
OD – When it comes to a collector buying one of your jewels, how would you advise them to choose?
NM – It depends on the profile of the collector. First and foremost he/she should be drawn to and touched by the chosen piece. This is essential.
OD – How is it to be a woman designing (mostly) for women?
NM – It is very pleasant. I pay a lot of attention to the comfort of my creations, and I simply create jewels that I would like to wear. Each piece must sit nicely on the body and highlight a person’s face.
OD – What is your vision of the high jewellery field at the moment?
NM – There is effervescence amongst jewellers with strong individuality and visions. Times are changing, creativity has been liberated, and a lot of new interesting players are emerging.
Olivier Dupon is a 21st century tastemaker and author of Fine Jewelry Couture (2016), SHOE (2015), Encore! The New Artisans (2015, Floral Contemporary (2014), The New Pâtissiers (2013), The New Jewelers (2012) and The New Artisans (2011), all published by Thames & Hudson.
K18WG・シルバー・天然真珠・クンツァイト・ダイヤモンド イヤリング。 Earrings in 18K white gold and silver set with natural pearls, kunzites and diamonds.
K18WG・シルバー・天然真珠・ダイヤモンド・ネックレス。 Necklace in 18K white gold and silver set with natural pearls and diamonds.