Friday, October 23, 2009

MANOEL BERNARDES

Double Stone Gold Ring
with Diamond Accents
Smack dab in the middle of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a centuries-old building known as the Paco Imperial Palace.

Built in the 18th century, the magnificent baroque structure served as a homestead for colonial governors. Brazil is also the home of featured jewelry designer Manoel Bernardes.

Over the last 20 years or so, Brazil has made enormous strides in cultivating a thriving jewelry industry.

Not only is the country a virtual hive of the world's most spectacular gemstones, Brazilian jewelry designers are also gaining more prominence.

Bernardes learned about the jewelry and gemstone industry firsthand from his father, who founded Brazil's premier gemstone and jewelry association; and was also an exporter of Brazilian gemstones.

When his father died in 1975, Bernardes assumed the company's administrative duties bringing the corporation into the forefront of innovative jewelry design.

In the past, Brazilian jewelry designers often emulated European designs, but they are presently embracing their vivacious, spirited culture. "We [Brazil] have found our way. We have the freedom to create something that translates our national culture," Bernardes enthuses.

All of Bernardes' designs implement beautifully faceted quartz and chalcedony stones in a myriad of colors, and showcased in alternately bold and streamlined pieces.

The stones are prominent with their textured, fluid color looking like succulent lumps of candy suspended from gold or cushioned within a ring setting. Inspiration for the pieces ranges from the tattered, wooden planks of a tiny, makeshift bridge to the bold, festive colors of Brazil's Carnaval.

"We believe, above all, that the brand should interpret the most profound and true feelings of those who buy and wear our jewelry," he says, "This is what really matters. This is what lends meaning to our work."

Gold and Diamond Drop Earrings
with Floral Motif
Bernardes also employs up-and-coming Brazilian designers such as Glace Drumont, who won first place in the IBGM (Brazilian Institute of Gems and Precious Metals) Design Award in 2006 for a white gold bracelet with imperial topaz; and Heloisa Azevedo won third prize for a yellow gold ring featuring an explosion of gemstones with accents of optic fiber.

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Photo 1 (top right): Unnamed Double Stone Gold Ring with Diamond Accents
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