Travel is Silvia Furmanovich’s gateway into another world — a cultured world that encompasses the natural one.
One of her recent collections looks to the colorful wildlife that inhabits the Amazon rainforest, as the brand is based in São Paolo, Brazil. But other collections are odes to the sensuous Ukiyo-e prints created during Japan’s Edo period (1600-1867) known as “Pictures of the Floating World,” which represent fleeting, everyday pleasures; the arts of India, which first captivated Furmanovich during The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts,” an exhibit that led her to visit that country; Venice’s multicolored mosaics and Murano glass; and pharaonic Egypt’s use of the scarab (beetle), symbolizing the renewal of life.
Furmanovich believes that jewelry has had deeper meanings throughout history. And she looks to preserve these meanings by integrating various cultures into her designs. This is why Furmanovich’s collections are named for the countries that inspired them.
The natural world also comes into play in her choice of materials, including 18-karat gold, diamonds, rubies, opals, mother of pearl, tourmalines, citrines, amethysts, topazes, moonstones and turquoise. She also uses coral, seashells, Rudraksha (a large seed), salvaged wood, copper, porcelain, Murano glass and rock crystal, which she sets on glass or gold for a trompe l’oeil effect. Sometimes, she hand paints landscapes onto her jewelry as well as lily pads and leaves or lines her peacock earrings with diamonds.
Some of her designs are created with coconut fiber while others include small orchid petals, which are preserved in lacquer and framed with rows of pavé diamonds.
During Furmanovich’s recent trip to the state of Acre in Brazil — which inspired one of her latest collections — she began experimenting more with marquetry, a 16th-century European technique that uses slivers of veneers to create patterns, pictures or designs. Using wood that was salvaged from fallen branches or bark — instead of being cut from trees — Furmanovich teamed with a group of local craftsmen who brought her vision to reality. Some of the recovered Brazilian wood had fallen near water, which changed its coloration. This color variation was taken into consideration when designing, providing pieces with multihued, natural finishes.
The results are like puzzles, with pieces of wood perfectly placed to create an intricate scene, whether it’s a flower or moonlight on water. Recently, Furmanovich began using marquetry to create a line of clutch handbags.
Furmanovich came from a line of jewelers. She spent her childhood observing the work of her father Salvador Longobardi, a renowned goldsmith in São Paolo, who built an atelier in their home. Furmanovich’s Italian great-grandfather had worked in design, having been a jeweler for the Vatican. In 2000, after exploring other endeavors, Furmanovich chose to reconnect with her family’s trade — adding her own personal twist, of course — and officially founded her company in 2003.
She now designs her pieces in her own at-home atelier — where the natural world can be framed and contained.