It's not often you hear a fine jewelry designer cite chandeliers and sex toys as inspiration in the same breath, but when Fernando Jorge walked me through his collection in a quiet back room at Barneys New York's last week, that's precisely how he explained his collection.
"This is more mature," the soft spoken -- and, it must be said, extremely handsome -- Brazilian designer told me, holding up a curvy earring. "The initial story was very cheeky, very ambiguous, provocative -- something that is organic, these really dripping shapes."
Jorge's line has only been up-and-running for three years. He started by working in São Paulo for four years under a watch designer and another four under designer Carla Amorim, before moving to London to pursue his master's degree. He's still based in London today -- where he and his sister now run their two-person operation -- but his design sensibilities are still very much rooted in Brazil. "My connection to jewelry is not just as an object, but how a person feels in it, how it's attractive," he said passionately. "I just wanted to enhance the attraction and talk about the sensuality, the connection with the body."
"OK there is a cliché here -- the Brazilian is very sensual about everything, talking about attraction, in a centuries old craft," he added with a smile. "And that’s okay, that is what my work is about."
As someone in my mid-twenties, I've always admired the look of fine jewelry, but never quite connected with it on a personal level because it felt somehow too "mature." (And also probably because I can't afford it, but that's another issue.) But as Jorge unpacked his collection, particularly the edgier pieces in his "Electric" collection, it's easy to see how a younger woman or a trendier woman (with a bigger budget than mine!) could work them into her everyday wardrobe.
That, naturally, is what Jorge is aiming for. "The desires [for the line] were grounded in traditional but looking to the future," Jorge elaborated. "Making [the jewelry] is always like this balance, contrasting ideas; grounded in the past but showing young energy and a little bit of an unorthodox way to approach these techniques." It's this unique approach of pairing traditional materials, like opals and diamonds, with unique stones from Brazil, that's helped land him the honor of being a Barneys exclusive -- a major coup for a young line.
"[Being in Barneys] feels surreal because it’s a place I was inspired by," Jorge said with a little bit of awe. "It was quick, but I was prepared from my previous experiences to do a work that was mature enough. I almost can’t believe it, it’s just a dream come true."
"But it feels much more real than when I was dreaming," he laughed, "because I actually made sure [it was here]."
Click through for photos of Fernando Jorge's fine jewelry, now available exclusively at Barneys New York.