Hello, this is Konishi.
‘I like the somehow antique feel.’ This is a comment that we hear on a daily basis. The word ‘antique’ is French for old or antique objects, but generally refers to goods that are more than 100 years old (objects less than 100 years old are distinguished by the term ‘vintage’).
Why do hum jewelry have ‘antique feel’ to them? To begin with, what exactly is ‘antiqueness’?
First of all, here is a list of the characteristics of so called ‘antique’ jewelry. Since it was made more than 100 years ago, many aspects differ greatly from those of today.
Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco... each period has its own major characteristics. As times change and technology and culture develop, people’s needs also change. In the process of these changes, a variety of jewelry designs have been born. Let’s take a look at Art Deco, for example. After the First World War, women began to work in the same way as men. There was no longer a need for the kind of Edwardian jewelry previously worn by the aristocracy, and linear, abstract, bold and strong Art Deco designs were born.
In this way, antique jewelry can be enjoyed by considering its historical context.
・How it's made
Originally, jewelry was made by hand and each piece was individually made to order. It was only after the Second World War that jewelry started to be industrially mass-produced as it is today. One of the main characteristics of antique jewelry is that it was handmade before the concept of mass production was born. The elaborate workmanship and ornamentation are proof of handmade craftsmanship. Many pieces of jewelry called antique can only be made by hand and have a unique handmade look and feel.
The round brilliant cut diamond, which is the mainstream in modern times was invented in 1919. It is a new cut, which has only been in existence for just over 100 years. This means that antique jewelry often features diamonds that existed before the invention of the round brilliant cut. The rosecut, for example, was popular in the 17th century. The rosecut, which has a flat base and is polished into a dome shape by combining triangular surfaces, has a profound brilliance that is completely different from the round brilliant cut.
Next, let’s take a look at the characteristics of hum jewelry.
With regard to the roots of jewelry's long history, our jewelry is designed by adding a contemporary interpretation to traditional styles and techniques. We believe that new styles emerge as an inevitable consequence of changing times, so we never design without regard to history. In other words, while the jewelry is designed for the modern people, it always has respect for the past in its background.
・How it’s made
With the concept of ‘memorable jewelry’, we are particular about having our jewelry made to order by our own craftsmen in our own atelier. Many of hum's jewelry pieces are not intended for mass production and have clasps developed from scratch. Ready-made components are rarely used. Moreover, in the past year or two, we have increased the number of jewelry pieces that are entirely handmade without casting. We believe that there is a passion that can only be put into a product because it is made by people with time and effort, and each piece is carefully handmade.
As mentioned repeatedly in this journal, at hum, we have never used a round brilliant cut diamond as a center stone of a solitaire ring. The current standard range is the rosecut diamond solitaire ring. We find organic beauty in diamonds that are cut by craftsmen making the most of the individuality of the stone, before the round brilliant cut was invented and the uniform standards of the 4C's were created.
At this point, you are probably starting to see the true nature of antiqueness. Design, how a piece is made, and diamond. There are many common features between antique jewelry and jewelry made by hum.
It is natural for hum to share the same design and production methods with antiques.
Would an aspiring musician start composing without listening to any past music? Jewelry has a long history, and we don't think one can create something new without learning about the history.
The history of jewelry in Japan is considerably shallow in comparison to that of Europe, and the market has grown in size without jewelers with sufficient knowledge and skills, which is probably why jewelry makers using methods like ours may appear rare in Japan.
As for diamonds, we cannot help but feel industrial about the round brilliant cut for it is cut under uniform standards, so we choose something different.
In this respect, we have a strong sense of aesthetics as hum. While using rosecut and cushion-cut diamonds, we have a strong desire to invent original cuts with our own hands, so there is the possibility of eventually creating diamond jewelry with newer values.
It seems the reason why hum jewelry is said to be antique-like is because we pay respect to history, but also have our own sense of aesthetics, rather than being stereotyped.
Before the Industrial Revolution, jewelry was only allowed to be worn by the aristocracy and a limited number of the upper classes. And at this time, everything was made to order, not only jewelry, but also clothes and shoes.
All pieces were made by craftsmen for customers, whose faces were visible. As the Industrial Revolution progressed, the economy became more active, more people gained wealth, and jewelry became for the masses.
Instead of making pieces for each individual as it was, products were made with the idea of ‘how to efficiently mass produce and sell’.
In modern times when anyone can buy and wear jewelry, a brand like hum that does not mass produce but makes each piece individually to order is very rare. Our manufacturing style, in which ‘who makes it for whom’ is clear, has much in common with the period known as antique era.
We think it is one of the important missions of jewelry makers to pass on the old ways of making jewelry, but it seems that no one but us is willing to take on this role. It may be that people who describe hum’s attraction as ‘antique-like’ are unconsciously sensing what we have conveyed in this article.
If you have grasped the true nature of antiqueness through this article, there may be a slight change in the way you view jewelry from now on.
We hope that the jewelry you choose will be passed on as antiques in the 100 years time.
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