With bright colors and statement-sized pieces, Chris Davies proves that fine jewelry can be fun too. Last week I met the designer at the Kentshire boutique in Bergdorf Goodman, where his collection is carried. The New Yorker is a designer at his core, weaving an early career designing couture and custom fashions into one in fine jewelry; his academic background in philosophy and religious studies is a common thread underpinning it all. His profound fascination with earth’s natural treasures and the diverse cultures of the ancient world seamlessly entwine in his jewelry.
As Davies showed me his collection, he explained in detail the intellectual inspiration behind each element of the jewel in his hands. Combining his knowledge of couture fabrics and goldsmithing techniques, Davies has developed a signature motif in which granules of gold are woven and tailored into breathtaking jewels. “My technique uses traditional fabrication methods for creating stone settings out of solid 18k gold, which are then covered in a woven fabric of 18k gold granules,” Davies explains. The granules are suspended in a mesh of finely twisted steel, forming a woven gold fabric that can be “manipulated through pattern making and draping techniques to create texture, volumes and folds.”
“The technique requires at least four different artisans on each piece: a goldsmith who does the fabrication, a lapidarist who cuts our unusual stones, a weaver who creates the gold fabric, and a draper who manipulates the “fabric” to create the forms that bring each design to life. As the designer, I participate in every stage of this process alongside the artisans I have trained to work with me. I fabricate, weave, drape and sometimes even polish stones.”
With the gold granule mesh as a basis, Davies has found infinite ways to shape his pieces around this unique element. Whether forming a spiral or undulating ruffle, the jewels make a bold statement with their voluminous shape and unmistakable dimensionality. Color is added to the mesh mix through beads of vibrant hardstones like turquoise, or swapping gold granules for a network of pearls, which delivers an eye-catching look all its own. The woven fabric also serves as a unique framework in which to set brightly hued stones. Endless versatility renders Davies’ jeweled fabric a cornerstone for each jewel, whether it is enveloping a malachite bead in a necklace or undulating like ruffles around a cuff.
What most caught my attention about his pieces was the playfulness distinct in each. His visionary work is a breath of fresh air in a contemporary landscape where commonality prevails. Nothing is flat, both figuratively and literally. Between the lively colors, original silhouettes and metaphysical inspiration, Davies brilliantly transforms the dissimilar worlds of philosophy and high fashion into an elevated state of fine jewelry.