Brazilian jeweller Silvia Furmanovich is well acquainted with every nook of her colourful homeland, from its vibrant streets to its verdant rainforests. She clues us in on some of the best places to see and be seen in South America, and how they influence her works.
When inspiration strikes 61-year-old Brazilian jeweller Silvia Furmanovich, she’ll go to any length to pursue it: even if her muse lies deep in the heart of the Amazon forest, even if she had to take two planes, a car, and travel an hour in a canoe just to get there.
Her travels were well worth the effort and bore fruit in her latest collection of precious jewellery — where one can find heartachingly delicate renditions of exotic, multi-hued flowers, and statement rings and evening clutches that perfectly encapsulate the majestic fauna that inhabit the forest.
Furmanovich’s latest collection draws inspiration from the colourful Brazilian rainforest, seen here in a magnificent pair of earrings & a butterfly brooch
For Furmanovich, beauty can be found anywhere, especially amidst the lively bustle of her native São Paolo, however there’s nothing she finds more gorgeous than the tranquillity of the Amazon rainforest.
Your latest collection!
My latest collection, Botanical, was inspired by the endless variety of fauna and flora I encountered during my trips to the Amazon rainforest and beyond. Pieces depicted include intricately crafted calla lilies, orchids, heliconia flowers, begonia leaves, banana flowers, roses, magnolia branches, geranium leaves, water lilies, chrysanthemums, peonies, butterflies and even tropical forest mushrooms. The pieces are set in 18k gold with gemstones including tourmalines, tsavorites, peridots, citrines, amethysts, moonstones, rubies, emeralds, fire opals and diamonds.
The jewellery was developed carefully in collaboration with artisans who specialise in wood marquetry. For this collection, we used the technique on sculptural, three-dimensional wooden surfaces, which was a technical feat! This represents an evolution of the marquetry process, began in 2016. The challenge here was dealing with tiny, curved surfaces and multiple layers of wood. Each piece has to be first sculpted out of wood. The pieces are then sent to the marquetry team, where they receive an overlay of differently collared wood veneers. Only then can they be set in 18k gold with gemstones and diamonds.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
At a time when technological advances are all the rage, I am attracted to and inspired by unique forms of craftsmanship found throughout different cultures. I travel the world in search of the guardians of extraordinary skills which are likely to be forgotten and threatened to disappear.
To create objects of lasting value and innovative beauty, I have always sought to make jewels combining little-known craftsmanship and unusual materials, such as wood marquetry from Brazil or miniature paintings from India. I encourage artisans all over the world to continue their craft and to push their creative limits.
Your family are also deeply respected jewellers – was that where you decided to become a jeweller?
I decided to become a jeweller later in life, when I felt a strong need to reclaim the heritage that was passed on to me by my goldsmith father.
What is it that you love about Brazil’s rainforests?
Rainforests are powerful places. One feels dwarfed by ancient trees that have a majestic, quiet presence. There is awe-striking plant life, such as giant lily pads that grow up to 2.5 meters in diameter, with the most beautiful network of roots on the underside. Another favourite is the Samaúma tree, which contributes to the phenomenon of “flying rivers”, large quantities of water vapour transported in the atmosphere. One experiences how everything is interconnected, as well as nature’s vast wisdom.
You current base?
I am living in Brazil, working from São Paulo, where my atelier is located.
What do you love about Brazil – specifically, Sao Paulo?
I am drawn to the great exuberance of the natural beauty found in Brazil. The country is a wonderful resource for all kinds of vibrant gemstones and I am inspired by the endless possibilities resulting from their combination.
My work is also very colourful and draws on the variety of hues found in the art of native cultures. A Brazilian “attitude” is also reflected in my work; Brazilian women here have a very strong love for life and are very comfortable with themselves, and they like to wear statement pieces.
São Paulo is a very cosmopolitan city, with access to art and culture. The city is a huge melting pot, and allows me to be creative.
Travelling more for work, or play?
I always strike a balance between work and play. It is very important to have fun when you are engaging in creative work. Travelling is how I feel connected to the world and I usually discover the best craftsmen while on-the-go.
Your favourite city in Europe?
I have been to Italy many times; it’s a culture devoted to beauty, magnificent architecture and the best food!
Your favourite places to visit in Brazil?
In Brazil, I love a place called Alter do Chão– a destination located in the Brazilian state of Pará – hidden deep within a remote corner of the Amazon rainforest. It’s a magical beach town of fresh waters far removed from the ocean, in the depths of the jungle, almost like an oasis. I also love a quaint place called Ilha do Ferro, in the country’s northeast region, renowned for its local handicrafts and artisans.
As a craftswoman, which country do you think has the best design sense?
Many cultures around the world have a unique sense of design, but I am obsessed with Japan at the moment. They have an incredibly refined sense of aesthetic. Stay tuned for the next collection! ◼
© This article was first published in Apr-May 2019 edition of World Travel Magazine.