From The 'Tomb' To 'Trend' - The Art of Granulation in Jewelry Is Making A Comeback
The first time I saw a piece of granulation my eyes bulged with fascination. I had seen some behind glass in a museum in Cairo and in Athens too, but never had been able to touch it to feel the art of it. It looked like braille.
'Granulation' is a fine art used in design, from about the 3rd or 4th Century BC, to adorn everything from warrior helmets and drinking glasses to torqs and bangles and even totems and ....it seems likely to have been brought over as an ancient art form, from the Indus Valley people (today modern Pakistan) several thousands of years ago and used in the design application to jewellery here.
And...as Bali is settled in Hindu religion, this makes sense.
In Europe, respected Italian jeweler, Fortunato Castellani, in the early 19th century, worked with an archeologist friend, who uncovered some relics with the style and so decided to trial some of it in his own jewellery designs with great success. He created a trend that lasted many years. Fortunato pieces are highly collected today for their beauty and delicate work.
So what is 'granulation?'
Granulation is the process of creating tiny balls and painstakingly applying them to a base in a design using a 'fusing' process. The fuse has to be a form of 'solder,' made from 100% silver and gently heated, so the solder melts and forms a bond, but the tiny balls do not follow suit and melt too. The use of the balls has been to add decoration in a pattern, or to create a journey with a 3D effect that lifts the design off the base of the piece, giving it depth.
Here, in Bali, the fusing process has for centuries been done by using a type of glue as well as the solder, that comes from a beautiful red seed from the Rosemary Pea bush, that was more likely than not, brought from India (as it is native there). The seed on it's own, should you ingest in mass quantities, would cause you to be very ill, so a tiny amount of it, is used to fuse the solder and the silver and bond in with extra strength to keep the balls in place.
Several designers have made it the base of some of their capsule collections. Paul Harvey's bracelet, the crazy formless rings that are not for the faint-hearted by Patricia Tschetter. Amazing and diverse work, that literally, stands out (seen here is her BEE RING) And for the more Modernist flavour to granulation jewelry, comes Harold O'Connor's showstopping brooch with spectrolite gemstone.
The island of Bali and the archipelago that she is part of (all 17,000 islands!) is the canvas for mine and Nini's art. Our business is based around the concepts of affordable, creative, wearable artworks, that use the beauty of the islands that surround us as well as the techniques used in the making of our pieces that are centuries old.
Our lives here are filled with learning each day about the incredible flora and fauna here and we aim to keep our jewellery designs a reflection of this beauty. Every time you buy a piece from us, you buy a story, a journey, a talisman about a design thought process that is a vehicle for nature. We love Bali.
The next collection will have snippets of granulation in it so watch out on www.niniandnessjewellery.com for more inspiration.