How does a diamond speak to you? Ask Christian Hemmerle, the fourth-generation jeweler who searches the world for unique antique diamonds, stones with character and emotion that, he says, speak to him.
“Old gems have a story to tell,” says Hemmerle. “They speak to you through their energy; we feel their energy.”
Hemmerle, known internationally for its bold, avant garde creations, favors vintage diamonds for their distinctly contemporary jewelry designs.
A century ago, these diamonds were cut by master artisans whose objective was to unleash a rough stone’s character and beauty, rather than to just maximize its carat weight, explains Yasmine Hemmerle, Christian’s wife. The results were diamonds that radiated a softer glow, compared to today’s often precision-cut modern diamonds.
Diamonds and gemstones are the starting point of Hemmerle’s one-of-a-kind jewelry creations.
Hemmerle combines the antique diamonds, which are most often left untouched and imperfect, with unconventional materials, such as iron, bronze and aluminum, in one-of-a-kind designs. That eye-catching juxtaposition of softly radiant old diamonds and striking industrial iron or sleek copper has become the house’s defining signature.
A Hemmerle design is instantly recognizable for its minimalist, sculptural form, innovative materials, and exceptional craftsmanship. There’s often a sense of playfulness in the pieces too, like the floral designs debuted in their recent Infused Jewels collection, which features metal settings that were tinted to enhance the color of the gemstones. They also regularly use ancient Egyptian artifacts and 18th century cameos that imbue layers of culture, craft and storytelling in a single jewel.
“The perfection is in the imperfection,” says Yasmin about Hemmerle’s diamonds of choice.
When Yasmin joined the family business, she quickly learned how to uncover the diamonds that speak to you. “I only knew about modern diamonds and the 4 C’s,” she says. “The more I saw these old stones, the more I recognized that they have a soul, something unique within them.”
Once the Hemmerles find that special diamond, it takes patience to realize the best home for it, says Christian. That was the case with a 12-carat cushion-shaped diamond that was once set in a European crown. He tucked that stone away for 16 years, until recently deciding upon the perfect setting for it. It was a lovely, crooked diamond, and he set in an iron ring with the diamond resting between two fingers. “It was a cool design; the crooked stone fit perfectly between the fingers. It sold immediately.”
Hemmerle’s audacious style started with Christian’s father Stefan, who experimented with new ideas and materials.
Today, Hemmerle’s modernist iron and diamond rings are coveted by international collectors who favor a more discreet yet distinctive aesthetic. That style originated in the 1990s when Stefan Hemmerle set a diamond in an iron ring for a client who favored early 19th century Berlin iron jewelry over platinum and diamonds. It was the beginning of a new era.
“Stefan was ahead of his time,” says Yasmin. “He was always minimalistic in what he did, and he was never scared about what people might say.”
Founded in 1893 by Stefan’s grandfather, the family has maintained that personal touch. Every piece is designed by the family and made by master craftsmen in its workshop in the center of Munich.
That first iron ring gave the Hemmerles the freedom – and courage to experiment with precious gemstones paired with innovative materials, such as brass, aluminum or even pebbles. “We don’t give ourselves boundaries,” explains Christian. “It’s not about what is precious or not, we just look what is the best house for the diamond.”
The Hemmerles are constantly exploring different techniques and materials to create new pieces that work with the way that women live today. “We live very fast lives, and people want to wear and enjoy their jewelry on a daily basis,” says Yasmin. To that end, the Hemmerles design rings with low-set stones in minimalist settings and diamonds are set upside-down in reverse pave spikes.
“The jewelry should never overpower a woman,” says Yasmin. Of course, it should speak to her.