The Loupe is a Minneapolis-based lifestyle boutique offering seasonally curated fine and designer jewelry collections for fashion aficionados. On November 17, the luxe shopping destination will be hosting a two-day appearance and by-appointment-only shopping experience with high jewelry designer Silvia Furmanovich, showcasing a brilliant selection of her eclectic array of pieces.
Since launching her brand 20+ years ago, Furmanovich has become one of the most visionary artists working in fine jewelry today. Her daring designs combine her meticulous attention to detail with her wide-ranging passions for the natural world, ancient cultures, unusual materials and innovative craftsmanship.
Ahead of her Minneapolis visit, we chatted with Furmanovich about her inspiration sources, her passion for designing with alternative materials and more.
What inspired you to launch your own fine jewelry brand?
I was born into a line of Italian goldsmiths. I used to watch my father work in his atelier when I was growing up. He had very large, skilled hands, and I have vivid recollections of him creating elaborate decorative objects in great detail made of gold on a minute scale. Later in adulthood, I felt a profound need to recapture my family’s line of work. At some point, I knew it was my destiny to go into fine jewelry.
Where do you source creative inspiration?
I usually discover creative inspiration while traveling. It starts with the desire to find a certain technique or craft particular to a certain culture or time in human history, and not having the fear to apply it to jewelry. To me, it doesn’t matter if the material is traditionally considered precious. I will then work with master craftsmen and artisans to transform my vision and dreams into reality.
How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic, fearless and bold. I like to wear things that are different and that evoke a sense of place. Things that are usually made by hand and that you can feel were made with love.
Where does your passion for creating with alternative materials stem from?
I am interested in incorporating materials and techniques involving the human hand into my work that are not traditionally associated with jewelry. I tend to draw on varied cultural and historical references and traditions, reimagining and refreshing them through an exploration of materials and techniques.
Throughout my career, I have explored wood marquetry to celebrate Brazil’s rich flora and fauna, Mughal culture portrayed through Indian miniature painting (a technique that I discovered through the 2016 MET exhibition Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts), Japanese bamboo basketwork reinterpreted with Amazonian bamboo, and jewels set with antique Roman micro mosaics (an homage to my Italian heritage).
I think this all stems from my love of travel, where I have been fortunate to come across different alternative materials. The cross-pollination of cultures and techniques is what interests me.
What is your favorite material you’ve created with to date?
I was in Paris visiting a gallery that specializes in bamboo baskets from contemporary Japanese master craftsmen, and I was highly impressed with the way artisans can use bamboo to create these incredibly sculptural pieces. This is where I first learned about bamboo weaving. I am still fascinated by bamboo, and the qualities associated with this material and what it can teach us in our lives. Bamboo bends but does not break; it’s resistant yet pliable yet firm. It’s a kind of grass, so it is very abundant, and it lends itself to spectacular structural forms. It’s a beautiful material, and we add further value by combining it with diamonds and precious gemstones.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to invest in fine jewelry?
I am fascinated by the time an artisan has spent on a piece and the skill needed for a particular piece of jewelry. Oftentimes, these skills take generations to master. For me, this is more interesting than the intrinsic value of stones and diamonds. My suggestion is for people to buy jewelry that they genuinely love and enjoy wearing. Like collecting art, collecting jewelry should be a passion.
Are there any exciting trips or projects on the horizon?
I am going back to Japan in January to further research bamboo basketry and in particular visit Wajima, a city known for lacquerware. I am going to reinterpret these materials for our home collection.