Flanked by small palm trees, Fiscal Castle, located in Brazil, takes up the entire expanse of the island it rests upon.
The 19th century structure's lustrous green color was conceived according to Emperor Dom Pedro's specification that the building be a "dazzling jewel." Brazil is also home to featured jewelry designer Antonio Bernardo.
Despite Brazil's reputation as literally spilling over with luminous precious and semi-precious gemstones, Bernardo's primary focus for his jewelry is the precious metal.
With such items as 18-karat gold, vine-like earrings that support small but vibrant dangly gemstones, the designer does not completely forego including their dazzle. However, he loves the flow and movement that is achieved when working with gold metal.
At age 10, Bernardo studied the special tools his father sold to goldsmiths, and when one of the artisan's created a ring based on one of young Bernardo's drawings, his destiny was sealed.
In 1970, he established his own company but for the first several years, he only sketched and prepared drawings, while a skilled staff of metalworkers created the designs. By the start of the 1980s, he obtained tools and from there became the official "author" of his three-dimensional works.
The clean, geometric elements of Bernardo's jewelry seem strongly influenced by a Central or Eastern European aesthetic. Perhaps his affinity for cleaner forms can be attributed to Bernardo's German ancestry. His Sinuoso ring, for instance, highlights the type of innovation Germany is renowned for as the piece subtlety changes shape as it is worn on the finger. This simple yet discrete style has become the designer's signature.
With a flagship store in Ipanema, Bernardo's jewelry is popular in both Europe and the United States. His work has also been recognized for its elegant artisanship. In 2004, his 18-karat gold ring, called Expand, won the Europe-based iF Design Award, and Red Dot Design Award.
Instead of a gemstone setting the Expand ring highlights a concentric circle, which is Bernardo's interpretation of the expansive universe, It was the first time the designer submitted any of his work to an awards competition, and he was happy the judges understood what he wanted to convey with t
"Jewelry has to touch people's hearts," he says. "Jewelry has to have a concept behind it, because an observer sees the piece from both an emotional and physical viewpoint."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Ar Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Expand Ring