France is a country renowned for its architecture (i.e. the Eiffel Tower); however, you can find a little bit of Rome there too. The Pont du Gard, an aqueduct bridge built by Romans over a thousand years ago, still stands squarely across the Gard River. France is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Hervé Van der Straeten.
Of Dutch and French descent, Van der Straeten possesses an appearance that evokes the moody, quiet intensity of a silent film star.
With this in mind, it seemed fitting to learn that he is a bit of a restless type doodling endless sketches in his notebooks.
The one-time engineering student has confessed to only “caring about my drawing lessons” while enrolled in engineering courses. Not long after he realized that his artistry was better suited for something a bit more expressive.
Scrapping his engineering pursuits, Van der Straeten became a full-time art student attending Paris’ École des Beaux Arts. His constantly shifting design ideas culminated into stunning designer jewelry marrying the flowing curves of sculpture with the angular, geometric forms of architecture.
His classic structures tempered with understated incongruity are central to his aesthetic and prompted requests from famed fashion designers Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, and Jean Gaultier for whom he has created jewelry for their respective labels.
His modern jewelry items of “hand-wrought”, textured 24-karat gold plated bronze, accentuated with rock crystals, amethyst, lacquer or enamel, seem to alternately undulate within its proportions into sinuous patterns or explode in a type of random precision.
Many of his gold cuff bracelets are either an enclosure of cut-out designs that softly twist around a wrist or are these wide, rounded curves of glowing gold-tone metal.
Gold necklaces highlighting different sized square discs seem almost like paper cut-outs as their arrangement is arbitrary not side-by-side making the discs appear to float like golden light across a chain.
It is all very elegant, sleek and haute couture; so it was great to learn that he sells his pieces through a few online stores, such as New York's Met Opera Shop, at affordable prices.
A prolific artist, Van der Straeten has left his mark in other areas of the fashion industry including the voluptuous perfume bottle for Christian Dior’s J’Adore; the case for Guerlain’s Kiss Kiss lipstick; as well as his own line of ultramodern furniture. Even in his latest exploit, jewelry is never far from his thought processes.
“I have a chandelier with organic-looking gold rings that is very similar to a pair of earrings,” says Van der Straeten, “Jewelry is a laboratory for studying shapes for my furniture.”
Photo 1 (top right): 24-Karat Gold Plated Bronze and Black Lacquer Circle Necklace
Photo 2 (center): 24-Karat Gold Plated Bronze Hoops Ring
Photo 3 (bottom left): 24-Karat Gold Plated Cuff Bracelet with White Enamel