Thursday, September 3, 2009


Today we visit a few of Brazil's historical sites located in Minas Gerais.  The country's colonial past is preserved in the distinctive baroque architecture of cities Ouro Preto, and Belo Horizonte.

Ouro Preto, in particular, was the center of a massive gold rush once the metal was found near the close of the 17 century. Brazil is also the home of featured jewelry designer Christo Kiffer.

I would say that Kiffer is an intense type; dedicated, focused and decisive. A student of architecture, he developed a sincere appreciation for its philosophy of structure; however, he felt somewhat confined by the medium.

Having grown up in a country satiated with magnificent crystals and gemstones, studying architecture provided him with a creative outlet, as there were no jewelry schools at the time.

Once he attended a stone setting workshop, Kiffer immediately knew how he would proceed. "The workshop changed my perception of three-dimensional forms and reignited my passion for gems. I fused my passion for construction techniques and architecture into an art form that provided me with total control over the entire process," he says.

He subsequently engaged in a full-blown creative excursion, teaching himself the art of jewelry design. "I sought information; I researched books and developed my skills through experimentation."

With specific aesthetics in mind, he spent 20 years perfecting a stone setting technique he invented called a Floating Channel, which accentuates small, full cut diamonds. "I wanted to construct a design element that was technically challenging and innovative."

His beautiful designs, created with 18-karat gold and platinum, range from clean, geometric forms to subtle intricacies like textured fissures all of which are accented with his signature sprinkle of tiny diamonds. "This technique involves carving crowns in the wall of each fissure and hammering the metal toward the stones. The stones then appear to float on the surface optimizing their reflective quality."

Kiffer chooses a decidedly pragmatic outlook on the fruition of his feminine, sylphlike designs.

"I love what I do," he enthuses. "To me it is about the process, not inspiration. To design and make jewelry is my passion. The end result directs the path of construction, creating a three-dimensional object reflecting a personal history."

Cindy Edelstein and Frank Stankus feature pieces from Kiffer's collections in their 2008 book entitled "Brilliance! Masterpieces from the American Jewelry Design Council."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Brooch with Diamonds and Tourmaline
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Yellow Gold Ring with Floating Diamonds from Men's Collection
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