Real estate has pride of place in John Hardy’s jewelry collections.
Specifically a 30-year-old compound in Ubud, Bali. There amid lush, terraced rice paddies and banyan trees, creative director/head designer Guy Bedarida and his team of 650 native artisans sit down each day at a long table covered in bright yellow or orange tablecloths and set with white dishes to savor a lunch prepared by chef Pak Ngurah with ingredients from the Hardy organic gardens. Such is the hospitality and magic of the place that they’re often joined by clients who’ve accepted Guy’s gracious invitation to visit the compound, dine with its craftsmen and then tour the workshop and showroom.
At the moment, Guy (pronounced “gee” with a hard “g”) is far from that bucolic setting – visiting Bloomingdale’s White Plains as part of a whirlwind American tour but still having fun, and why not? A throng of customers rings a rectangle of dazzling John Hardy display counters. Brooklyn fashion illustrator Jennifer Lilya charmingly sketches Hardy clients and their richly textured metallic treasures, studded with precious and semiprecious gems. Raspberry-kissed Champagne flows.
Dressed in a velveteen black blazer, white shirt, black pants and shiny black shoes, Guy looks natty and at home amid the chic black-and-white palette of the store’s main floor. Taking a rare breather, he explains that Bali is not only home to his designs, it’s their inspiration. With 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world. But Bali remains Hindu. And the serene aspect of the Hindu faith meant that the eight rival kingdoms of long ago chose to compete in art rather than war, Guy says. Today that choice expresses itself in John Hardy’s ropey, woven, chain-link, filigree styles for men and women that embrace everything from a bamboo fishing rod to Balinese river stones to dragon mythology.
Guy points to a number of stunning silver designs on his own wrist, including a dragon bracelet that is part of the Naga Collection.
“The dragon (Naga) brings love, protection, strength and power to the people who wear it,” Guy says, depending on how you wear it. For instance, turn the 18-karat gold and silver dragon’s-head clasp – with its fiery ruby eyes or black sapphire scales – outward if you want protection.
But it’s not just the Naga Collection that has shoppers jockeying for position. Hardy’s Cinta Collection is so exclusive that it only travels with Bedarida. Think spessartite garnet and purple and pink spinel rings crusted with pavé pink sapphires and spinels, orange spessartites and brown and white diamonds all set in bands of 18-karat pink or yellow gold.
The sparkling abstraction of these designs – a complement to the folkloric flavor of the Naga Collection – reflects Guy’s time as head designer at Van Cleef & Arpels, something he only modestly mentions as an aside. It was while he was at Van Cleef some 15 years ago that Hardy spirited him away for his Balinese company. And though Guy travels to Europe – where he had a childhood foothold in both France and Italy thanks to a Parisian father and a Florentine mother– he wouldn’t have it any other way.
For more on John Hardy, visit johnhardy.com and Bloomingdales.com.