Situated along the shoreline of France's Rhone River is the foreboding Tarascon Castle that was constructed during the 15th century by the order of Louis II of Anjou. After years of disrepair the structure underwent a restoration 78 years ago remaining a historical fixture within the Rhone Valley. France is also the home of featured jewelry designer Lorenz Bäumer.
In some cases, the personal style or persona of a jewelry designer commands as much attention as their jeweled trinkets.
Tarina Tarantino (USA) has her signature fuchsia locks while Stephen Webster (England) has a rough-and-tumble persona. Bäumer, whose movie star looks are a subtle cross between Harrison Ford and Bradley Cooper, wears a sleek, custom-designed black suit with purple flecks that is offset by a diamond-encrusted lapel pin featuring the initials LB.
Of French and German ancestry, Bäumer spent his early years living in the United States, but when he pursued his interest in engineering, he journeyed to his mother's homeland attending Paris' École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures.
His engineering studies, with its focus on design and innovation, would provide a solid base for Baumer's advent into jewelry design and jewelry creation.
An admirer of French jewelry artists René Lalique and Jean Schlumberger, for 10 years Bäumer created a self-titled costume jewelry line full of vitality and whimsy. "I experimented with many different techniques with my costume jewelry, techniques I wold later transfer to my fine jewelry collection," he says.
Bäumer also carried over the flamboyant, whimsical aesthetic of his costume line. Incorporating 18-karat pink, white and yellow gold with accents of orange sapphires, black and white diamonds, iolite, and tourmaline (the designer's favorite), he fashions jewels that blend the lyricism of poetry, the stature of architecture and the organic beauty of nature.
His bat ring, for instance, called Succube, cradles a huge, pink tourmaline stone while his 18-karat white gold and diamonds skull pendant, called Lune Tete de Mort, are striking in their execution possessing a biting edge reminiscent of Webster.
Though rather macabre in tone, these pieces are strangely beautiful such as the skull pendant, which holds a second design within it; a key characteristic of Bäumer's work.
When you look closely, the skull's cutout eyes are actually silhouettes of two people seemingly engaged in conversation. The exquisite pavé work on many pieces, like his swan ring Cygne, is reminescent of the work of designer Carlo Palmiero (Italy).
"The fact that I have no formal schooling in jewelry design means there are no rules," he says, "I love to work with small details that become important and take on significant meaning."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat White Gold Hippocamp Ring
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat White Gold Ring with Multi-Colored Gemstones