Heart, Van Craeynest, at Lustre Gallery, Tellurid


Heart, Van Craeynest, at Lustre Gallery, Tellurid

Heart, Van Craeynest, at Lustre Gallery, Telluride

In response to a recent Internet survey about the upcoming holiday, Valentine’s Day, people waxed optimistic, saying they would spend more than they did in 2012. Per usual, men plan to spend more than women. A whopping 20 percent said they would buy the traditional gift of jewelry. If they are true to their word, that population will wind up dropping a healthy $4.4 billion on bijoux, up from $4.1 billion in 2012.

Hopefully some of that in Telluride at galleries such as Lustre.

The timing is right. Lustre has resurrected its seasonal tradition of showcasing Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewelry featuring Barcelona metal artist Lluis Masriera, whose enamel work is legendary.

Founded in 1839, the House of Masriera became synonymous with Art Nouveau jewelry in Spain, ultimately sharing a podium with Lalique glass and Gaudi’s over the top architecture. Lluís Masriera (1872-1958), son of jewelers and painters, pioneered several innovations in his field, including the technique known as “Barcelona Enamel,” a translucent enamel possessing brilliant luminosity and remarkable definition. Fortunately for jewelry collectors today, Masriera saved every mold used in his design process. Each contemporary Masriera is made from these original molds, and so they are not considered reproductions, but originals.

To complement Masriera, Lustre also features the Van Craeynest fine jewelry line, which specialize in Victorian and Art Deco era die recently acquired by the Emerson family.

Established in 1926, Van Craeynest is one of only a few jewelers left in the world to utilize nearly forgotten artisan techniques.  These techniques are kept alive with the practice of apprenticeship, a tradition brought from the original workshop in San Francisco. Decades of knowledge and skill in die striking, piercing, carving and chasing are passed from Master Jeweler to each new craftsman. The signature characteristics of intricate detailing and individuality that have distinguished all Van Craeynest jewelry can be seen in new releases from its library of over 3000 dies or designs.

“A working museum, with antique tools and really, really antique technique. Most of the tools in our extensive collection date to the beginning of the previous century and are the only surviving examples,” said Paul Emerson II about the Van Craeynest workshop.

Dies are used to force gold or platinum into shape between hardened steel dies under two to ten tons of pressure. The metal is struck “cold” and its molecular structure is actually changed during the process. It becomes much harder and tougher.

Chasing and carving is a technique of modeling and moving metal in the same way that clay is modeled, to make patterns and deep texture in the metal.

“It’s how we make flowers come to life, blossoms bloom,” Emerson said, explaining the techniques are also what gives each piece its individuality. “Each jeweler will open that blossom slightly differently.”

Summing up Van Craeynest, Emerson said:

“It’s poetry in metal.”

Watch the video for a preview of the trunk show:

Lustre Gallery is located at 171 South Pine Street. The trunk show takes place just after Valentine’s Day (although the jewelry will be in house for the holiday) Saturday, February 16 – Tuesday, February 19. The opening reception for this bling double header is Saturday, 4 – 7 p.m.

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