By Ashley Davis
These “Signal Earrings” from Fernando Jorge’s “Surround” collection, released in 2018, are the designer’s favorite from the range. They feature brilliant-cut diamonds, mother-of-pearl, tagua nut and petrified wood.
I see a lot of jewelry.

Various people in the industry have expressed to me how important it is for jewelry designers to have an aesthetic signature, elements that are recognizable to both buyers and consumers, so their work doesn’t blend in in a saturated marketplace.

I’ve come to see the importance of this, particularly when strolling around a large jewelry department at the likes of Bergdorf Goodman or Barney’s. There’s no way to mix up the Repossi with the Carolina Bucci or the Judy Geib with the Sophie Bille Brahe; they’re clearly all parts of separate stories.

But I imagine this presents a challenge for designers.

For one, creatives want to experiment, maybe even take their work in a completely different direction that doesn’t look like their pre-existing collections.

And secondly, once they have found their design niche that makes them stand out, there’s always pressure to show the world something new.

So how do they constantly deliver a new take on their specific brand motifs?

I don’t have the answer to that, but Fernando Jorge does. I don’t think there’s anyone who manages to come up with such exciting new directions that feel utterly fresh but still are completely recognizable to his brand.

Among the many new collections I was lucky enough to see in 2018, Jorge’s “Surround” collection stands out to me as the strongest.

The London- and Brazil-based designer seems to reinvent his own particular wheel again and again.

In 2017, the diamond-centric “Brilliant” collection was met with accolades at the Couture show, representing a new direction for the brand we had come to associate with colored gemstones.

In 2018, he switched gears with “Surround.”

“Working closely with diamonds over the past year had me thinking about their natural beginnings and connections to the planet,” Jorge explained. “I thought about my own surroundings in the world and my deep connection to the Earth. I wanted to bring this meditation into my work—something grounded, warm and nature-inspired, but in my own aesthetic.”

“Surround” combines brilliant-cut diamonds with materials like tagua nut, nephrite jade, pink opal, mother-of-pearl and petrified wood, creating a natural progression in Jorge’s oeuvre. It’s a full circle moment for the designer, who, in his first personal jewelry project in 2002 mixed the tagua nut, called jarina in Brazil, with gold and diamonds.

Through expert design and craftsmanship, he elevates these materials to make them feel truly luxurious. (And tagua nut, considered a substitute for ivory, is very on-message in terms of sustainability in 2018.)

“The idea of having natural materials in my work has always been present,” Jorge explained. “After ‘Brilliant,’ a collection so pure and ethereal, my instinctive response was to go back to my creative beginnings and bring back these natural and grounding elements.”

The collections, though distinctly different, work seamlessly together, a bonus for the Jorge collector and devotee (just see the above Instagram post, in which a Jorge publicist sports “Surround” earrings and a “Brilliant” collar).

Jorge’s first release of “Surround” to stores this fall encompassed 13 pieces priced between $2,000 and $184,000 at retail, though the designer also continually expands upon previous designs from collections like “Brilliant” and “Fluid,” and will surely deliver new additions to “Surround” in the future.

Each collection tells a chapter in the story of one of our contemporary era’s greatest jewelry makers. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Jorge has up his sleeve in 2019.

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