By Ashley Davis
Officially launched at Bergdorf Goodman last November, Santo by Zani comprises a growing range of jewelry based on Masonic orbs.
New York--Santo by Zani jewelry designer Zani Gugelmann is putting a modern spin on a Victorian design concept.

Officially launched at Bergdorf Goodman last November, Santo by Zani comprises a growing range of jewelry based on Masonic orbs.

Worn in Victorian times and into the early 20th century, Masonic orb pendants consisted of a multi-paneled sphere that, when unhinged, unfold into the shape of a cross engraved with Masonic symbols.

20180522 SantobyZani headshotSanto by Zani designer Zani Gugelmann, photographed by Olimpia SoheveInstead of symbols, Gugelmann’s 18-karat gold versions are decorated with saturated shades of enamel, diamonds and colored gemstones. Unfolded, each pendant assumes the shape of either a cross, a six-pointed “Star of Creation,” a four-pointed “shield” or a flower.

The orb collection was in development for two years prior to its Bergdorf launch and is now being sold in a Moda Operandi trunk show as well as on the Santo by Zani website.

The line begins retailing at $750 for a pair of folded studs and runs upward of $16,000 for certain large orb pendants. The brand offers customization by special order.

National Jeweler chatted with Gugelmann about her technical designs, love of surprises and what’s next for her brand.

National Jeweler: How did you come to work in jewelry design?

Zani Gugelmann: I learned advanced classical jewelry making techniques at Cecelia Bauer in New York City. I studied there in 1997, and then again in 2007.

Being able to make jewelry and understand the complexities of the process from start to finish allows one to create and design pieces that one could not have even previously imagined.

NJ: The Santo by Zani folding technique must have taken quite a bit of trial and error to perfect. Can you explain what that design process was like?

ZG: The folding technique certainly took trial and error. Each and every piece of my collection requires extreme precision--both in 3D modeling and hand crafting. Each piece is assembled with hinges, links and clasps, allowing for movement and complete transformation. The jewelry can be worn two ways--open or closed, personal or exposed to the world.

Elements of curiosity, excitement and the notion of a child-like surprise have inspired and driven me to make this collection.

NJ: What was your inspiration behind the folding concept?

ZG: The inspiration behind the folding concept is a mixture of intricate craft and the element of wonder and metamorphosis.

I have a strong desire to move the viewer or owner, especially in an unexpected way. There is more behind these pieces than meets the eye. My hope is that these pieces are passed down for generations to come, and never cease to evoke amazement.

NJ: Who is the Santo by Zani woman? How would you describe her?

ZG: The Santo by Zani woman, or man, is truly a lover of jewelry first and foremost. I imagine he or she highly regards and respects innovative design as well as traditional jewelry craft and luxurious raw materials. These pieces are colorful and mysteriously exciting. An intimacy between the wearer and physical piece develops--the jewelry will transform with you, from day to night, winter to spring, and from generation to generation.

NJ: What’s next for your brand, and in what kind of stores do you think it would be a great fit?

ZG: There are lots of surprises in the works! I can’t spill my secrets quite yet, but stay tuned for an exciting launch.

In terms of stores, what’s most important to me is a boutique that truly understands the art of jewelry, inside and out.

NJ: How often will you be releasing new pieces and/or collections?

ZG: My pieces are more intricate and technical than most people imagine. Personally, quality is crucial to me, especially since many of the pieces are designed to be modern day heirlooms. When I feel they are perfect, they are released. New pieces are always in the works; they take approximately three months to perfect.

NJ: Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created or one that you never take off?

ZG: I have to admit I don’t have a favorite piece. I wear my pieces closed so it all depends on what I want to hold close to my heart or show and expose to people.

Sometimes I feel like wearing color, so I wear one of my pieces with enamel. Other times I like wearing my pieces that have personal inscriptions inside, making me very sentimental.

20180522 SantobyZani shieldgroupSanto by Zani shield pendants in 18-karat yellow gold with ceramic and diamonds, starting at $4,830

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