Classic Jewelry house
It is thought that art brings beauty and life together. It is art that lies at the foundation of all things, reflecting life’s hidden essence and, at the same time, is its most fine and complete manifestation.
Throughout history the act of artistic creativity has held the power to bring forth beauty and new insights, with their tremendous capacity to change the world. The artistic response invariably came strong at the times of historic transitions and social upheavals. The artist’s mind, open and susceptible, responded to the turmoil of his time. Such was the case of Alfred Cartier at the time of the French Revolution. So it was with Carl Faberge, who reached his creative peak at the time of the fall of the Russian empire.
Ukraine’s recent history witnessed a great rise of intellectual and artistic energies. Unique breakthroughs have occurred in visual arts, music and film making. A recognized school of jewelry art has emerged.
The stunning “Swan Princess” ring, designed and crafted by the goldsmiths of Lobortas Classic Jewelry House, was included in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011. Featuring 2,525 diamonds – a record number which astonished the experts. Each diamond has a classic 57 facet cut and is proportioned with great precision to harness the gem’s internal brilliance and return the maximum light. Entering through the top of the diamond, the light is broken down into a rainbow of colors and reflected in the interior of the gem by bouncing off the mirror-like facets. It then exits through the crown, recombining as white light.
The creation of the “Swan Princess” masterpiece required new, previously non-existent, tools in order to implement the designers’ ideas. Selecting and attaching each of the 2,525 diamonds became a process of truly inspired art-making, as well as an effort requiring supreme skill and precision. The craftsmen worked between the beats of their hearts, to maintain focus and keep their hands still – not unlike the storybook Levsha, the left-handed craftsman, who put horseshoes on a clockwork steel flea.
Yet the greatest accomplishment of the Ukrainian masters lies not in their technical skill, but in giving the world a masterpiece that captures absolute beauty, wholeness and spirituality. The “Swan Princess” is a stunning form and an image of the fairy-tale bird whose magic powers can change one’s destiny. Much more than diamonds and gold, it is a rich poetic image, deeply alive and powerful; one to explore again and again, something new and exciting to be discovered each time.
The inside of the ring resembles a fairy-tale luminescent flower. At the center of the composition, the delicate neck of the swan curls above her treasure – the heart of the world in the shape of a folkloric egg. The swan’s eyes are filled with hope, the mystic beauty and brilliance of her plumage striking in their opulence. Her silhouette is reminiscent of the swan princess from the painting of Mikhail Vrubel.
Another work by Lobortas Classic Jewelry House is a sculpture of Cossack Mamay – inspired by a uniquely Ukrainian theme. The image of the Cossack is not prominent in the art of other Slavic nations. Yet it remains a powerful symbol and a distinctive representation of Ukraine’s early and contemporary art.
Cossack Mamay is a spiritual symbol of the Ukrainian people’s heroic ideals and aspirations. He is a symbol of strength and unbroken will in the fight against oppression. Underneath the outward composure lie the Cossack’s deep emotional experiences and great inner strength. Long has he been carrying his sabre, protecting his homeland from enemies. When pressures subside, he sits under the oak tree, puts away the sabre and picks up his trusty bandura, to pour out his sadness in song.
Folk mythology created the image of Cossack Mamay that unites seemingly incompatible qualities: those of a warrior and a priest, an uncompromising fighter and a wise philosopher. This unifying principle points the way forward – that of integration and universalism. The Ukrainian Cossack elite, educated and spiritual, with its strong moral and intellectual qualities, had taken this path.
The sculpture demonstrates deep understanding of Cossack Mamay’s character, as well as great technical mastery. The beginning of the 20th century witnessed the arrival of new techniques in sculpture. Masters such as Pablo Picasso, and later Vladimir Tatlin and Nathan Altman used rough, hewn lines to convey the subtle power of their strong, freedom-loving characters. The contemporary sculptural depiction of Cossack Mamay integrates the concepts of cubism and cubo-futurism used in painting and graphic arts of the era. The dramatic, broken lines of the sculptural form accentuate the internal tension and the tragic aspect of the folklore hero. The figure of the Cossack conveys both reserved composure and dynamic movement.
The sculpture features an innovative use of the cloisonné enameling technique, in this case utilized to create the decorative embroidery pattern. The technique is used on the uneven surface of the sculpture. This method is both extremely complex and unique, employed for the first time by the Ukrainian masters.
Cossack’s bandura carries a secret within, a mark of the great works of jewellery art. Unusually shaped, almost high-tech in form, the bandura is crafted of citrine and gives off brilliant shine when touched by light. Upon closer look, the bottom of the bandura reveals a shimmering, golden “oberih” embroidery pattern. This is one of the world’s best examples of the use of embroidery patterns in jewelry art and a powerful testimony to the beauty and sacredness of the Ukrainian “oberih” – a silent prayer for guardianship and protection. World’s leading experts have repeatedly named Cossack Mamay one of the finest examples of contemporary jewellery sculpture.
The Ukrainian embroidered shirt is more than festive attire. It is a symbol of belonging to a greater family and nation, a mark distinctly Ukrainian in a contemporary globalized society. It is a connection between generations, rich in spirituality and higher wisdom.
Embroidery patterns and enamels used in jewellery art make a rich research subject. The vibrant colors of the enamels and their long-lasting color fastness have attracted jewellers and artists of all eras. Enameling itself is a sacred art form where fire becomes the artist’s co-creator. The artist has to carefully control the temperature during the firing process. Even the slightest overheating may alter the color and destroy the piece. Completing a composition often requires repeating the firing process dozens, even hundreds of times. The intuition of the artist is the key to success: the process is fully manual and has defied automation. It is the conscious focus of the artist, together with the spontaneity of the process that makes each piece unique. Each of the exquisite embroidery-pattern rings is one-of-a-kind.
Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, the Ukrainian-American astronaut, was presented with an enamelled “Tree of Life” cross during her visit to Kyiv. The tree of life is one of the ancient symbols in the spiritual traditions of humanity. It denotes the connection between the earthly and the heavenly realms, the spiritual growth of the human race and the mystery of the laws of life. The “Tree of Life” cross was created to commemorate the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Kyivan Rus. It was brought to the International Space Station on board the “Soyuz TMA-11M” spacecraft and made 3006 revolutions around the Earth. The cross covered 128 million kilometers and returned to Earth on May 14, 2014.
The themes of the Orthodox tradition have always presented a special challenge to the masters of jewellery art. The church art canons have remained unchanged over the centuries. The great Carl Faberge and his famous Easter eggs denoted an end of an era in the great Orthodox tradition. Yet, the Ukrainian artists of Lobortas Jewellery House were able to enrich the tradition in a new way.
It has become an important tradition over the past 20 years to bring the Holy Fire from Jerusalem to Ukraine on Orthodox Easter. The masters of the Lobortas House designed and created the first Ukrainian Icon Lamp for the delivery of the Holy Fire. The Icon Lamp gained great prominence in the church and became one of the items used at the altar. Today the icon lamps of the Holy Fire are used during important church holidays in Kyiv, Milan, Rome, and other cities
Press-attaché, Lobortas Classic Jewelry House
Photography – Vladyslav Filin
Quotes for the inserts:
This icon lamp will always remind me of Ukraine and its people, but most importantly of the Church that shines the light of faith to the world.
Pope Benedict XVI
The collections of Lobortas Jewelry House enrich the cultural life of New York.