DUBAI: Buying an expensive piece of jewelry is one of the last thoughts on people’s minds in the current climate. The retail industry has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, with luxury and fashion firms among those sectors being hit the hardest. Bricks and mortar stores remain shut, and online shoppers are cautious about discretionary spending. Reports, from trade publication The Business of Fashion and consultancy McKinsey & Company, state that sales are expected to decrease as much as 40 percent this year. That’s an extraordinary figure. But a new form of luxury is taking shape, one dubbed “silent luxury.”
“Experience also suggests that, after a large-scale crisis with a heavy emotional toll, consumer preferences could shift, at least for a time, toward ‘silent luxury’ - paying more attention to classic elements, such as craftsmanship and heritage, and less to conspicuousness and ‘bling,’” according to an early April article from McKinsey.
During the pandemic there has been a rapid shift in consumerism, exacerbated by the present state of the world, toward investing in high-end pieces that are made to last. They demonstrate the epitome of craftsmanship, sustainability and have a higher potential for resale on the growing secondary market. These are luxury goods that are not just one-of-a-kind, they stand the test of time for their narrative, beauty and dedication to the essence of the materials from which they are made.
Since its inception 127 years ago the fourth-generation, family-run and Munich-based jeweler Hemmerle has upheld the values of craftsmanship, integrity, innovation and beauty through its vanguard designs and use of dazzling materials. After weeks and weeks of lockdown its husband and wife team Christian and Yasmin Hemmerle, who run the jewelry house, are cautiously reopening the doors of their Munich boutique as Germany slowly gets back to business.
“We are providing our clients with masks when they come in and are abiding by social distancing measures,” Christian Hemmerle told Arab News. “We are continuing to be creative but are facing the same challenges as everyone else.”
The lockdown provided their clients with the opportunity to appreciate Hemmerle jewels in new ways. “We have clients who have sent us pictures of themselves in their garden and around the house wearing their jewels,” Yasmin told Arab News. “Just because they were told not to go out doesn’t mean that they couldn’t experience the feeling of joy in dressing up in their jewels.”
Both believe that beholding an object of beauty helps to transcend present challenges. “Simply knowing they (the jewels) are on me gives me the biggest pleasure,” one client told Yasmin during the lockdown.
“When someone buys a piece of jewelry from us, they buy it because they want to wear it not because they want someone to see them wearing it,” Yasmin said. “The jewels give the wearer an emotion in return. They provide happiness.”
The sense of beauty that comes from beholding an Hemmerle jewel stems from the house’s many influences, particularly from the Middle East. Hemmerle has long been influenced by Islamic geometry and the use of materials and stones like pearls, turquoise, garnets, carnelian, amber, coral, agate and faience—stones that would have been used in traditional jewelry throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
For example, one particular necklace features a piece of ancient Egyptian faience from the Amarna Period (circa 1352 – 1336 B.C.). For Hemmerle’s 125th anniversary, the house created a body of work entitled “Revived Treasures” that drew inspiration from ancient Egypt, including the structures, forms and proportions of its temples. The stylized simplicity of this necklace evokes structures of ancient Egyptian temples.
At the heart of Hemmerle’s work is the rediscovery of ancient materials to incorporate into its contemporary designs. The rarity of the intact 3,000-year-old faience lies in its subdued and elegant form, as well as the four pigments found in its inlay. This particular faience represents the lotus flower, which is significant for ancient Egypt. Upon closer inspection, one observes perforations used to hold strands of beads together that would traditionally form a collar with a mirror faience on the other end.
“Returning this faience to its original purpose in our work honors the past while also celebrating it in the present,” said Christian.
From its design to the pure state of materials used, every piece of Hemmerle jewelry is unique and can take years as well as hundreds of hours to produce. Prices are always on request and can reach into the six digits. Buying a Hemmerle piece of jewelry is like buying a work of art, it’s one that will stand the test of time.
“We still must allow ourselves to experience and enjoy beauty,” said Yasmin. “Yes, people are hesitant right now to spend. It’s a mindset. Because everything is strenuous right now and people are filled with uncertainty, surrounding yourself with beautiful things or wearing your favorite jewelry or even getting a bit dressed up nourishes your soul. It makes you radiate from inside.”