Brazilian Bling

According to Francesca Romana, a gem expert, author and renowned jewelry designer, Brazil puts out 30% of all the stones on the market. In the jewelry industry, the nation was responsible for $1B worth of exports between January to August alone. With these overwhelming numbers in mind, we investigate who’s who in the Brazilian bling scene.

Silvia Furmanovich has been in the business for 15 years and is a major hit with São Paolo socialites for giving antique accessories a contemporary makeover. The designer inserts vintage pieces on necklace pendants and bracelets made of porcelain beads decorated with Japanese netsukes. Furmanovich learned her signature embroidery technique from a North American shaman who embroidered medicine bags used for hold healing objects. “It took five years to adapt this technique to reach a jewelry level. I use the same kind of thread used in astronaut suits to give the bracelets a soft flexible feel, and the tapestry style designs, such as the gueisha scene, took me almost a year to get right,” explains the designer.

Carol Kauffmann is another popular name in Brazil’s elite jewelry circles and recently opened her first store inside Daslu. With only three years on the market, Kauffmann is gaining attention for her sophisticated mix of gem colors and inventive design shapes such as earrings shaped in playful circles and embellished with stones, or the “cage” bracelet, which uses a tranquil water palette of gems. This season, the designer worked with mirrored metal textures to enhance her stones’ sparkle and colors, as seen in drop-shaped ’70s-style earrings.

Yael Sonia has a similar aesthetic approach, working with kinectic concepts that give her beautiful pieces movement inside golden cages. One of Sonia’s first pieces was bought by the White House and she recently opened a flagship store in New York. Bettina Terepins is another name to keep in mind. Her contemporary work, which has an atemporal and rough aesthetic, has been a constant at art and design exhibitions such as this year’s Design Biennale. Meanwhile, Carla Amorim‘s “über feminin” pieces are deeply romantic and filled with textures. In the “Trama” collection, for example, she imitates straw weaves, while her latest collection, “Florada,” uses a water colored garden palette and gems with cute details such as tiny golden flowers popping from inside the stone.

We end our overview with a look at Italian-born designer Romana, whose observations about Brazil’s gem industry inspired this investigation. Having lived in Brazil for 20 years, Romana has developed a passion for indigenous stones as well as Rio’s unique aesthetic (her signature bangle pays homage to the Copacabana and Ipanema’s wavy sidewalk designs). Freely mixing noble materials such as gold, pearls and precious gems with enamel, Romana’s pret-a-porter jewels are easy and colorful, making them perfect accessories for a summer retreat or a casual event. Sold in Paris, Brussels, Madrid and the US, Romana has plans to open three more stores, in São Paolo, Brasilia and London, respectively. Romana’s latest collection was inspired by Italian architecture, bringing the designer back to her native roots without losing sight on her adopted home.

—Flavia Mendonça

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