By Joanna Hardy
I love to wear a brooch at any given opportunity, but the choice of brooch always depends on how I feel or the emotion I wish to convey on that day. Brooches are like a loyal friend: they come with you everywhere, they make you stand tall and are always a great conversation starter. Whether vintage or contemporary, a brooch will always make me feel special.
I was first introduced to Ms. Akihara, whose jewellery goes under the name of Gimel, when I was working for Sotheby’s. In 2005, I had the opportunity to lecture on a cruise ship for Sotheby’s, sailing through the South China Seas.
“The ship docked at the port of Osaka, in Japan, near to where the Gimel workshops were located. It was spring-time and a wonderful opportunity to visit Gimel’s workshop surrounded by the cherry blossom in the hills.”
The workshop, whose walls are predominantly made of glass, was nestled within the blossom trees, becoming integral with nature. Gimel jewellery is greatly inspired by the natural world; I remember there being a very large telescope for Ms. Akihara to gaze up into the night sky for inspiration.
Her craftspeople work with such precision that often a microscope is placed next to a jeweller’s bench when intricate details need to be executed. Every stone is meticulously chosen and if it means waiting years to acquire the right stone for the design, then so be it. The brooch I proudly own is a wonderful example of Gimel’s work, for even though it is so small, being only 2cms in height, the detail is quite outstanding. In fact, I have never seen such precision in a hand-crafted jewel of this size.
Ms. Akihara, like her jewellery, is full of surprises. I remember being so impressed with how the workshop glass walls could suddenly be darkened just by clapping one’s hands; or when I visited the toilets, there was a jewelled bug actually placed on the ledge in the loo itself, it definitely made me look twice!
My brooch symbolises how life begins, with two leaves pavé-set with perfectly matched demantoid garnets and a little dew drop represented by a briolette diamond. A Gimel signature is to set a little jewelled bug to the reverse of the jewel, so only you, the wearer, knows it is there. Not only is there a tiny sapphire jewelled bug to the reverse, there is a diamond at the end of the stalk, with all the weights of the stones engraved along the stem.
For a brooch so small, it makes a powerful statement. Every time I wear my Gimel jewel, compliments are always forthcoming.
“My two-leaf brooch represents the height of craftsmanship, individuality and unique design and wearing Ms. Akihara’s brooch enables me to promote excellence and vision.”
Jewellery is all about encompassing emotion and this two-leaf brooch, where life begins, fills me with wonder and joy every time I wear it.
Images courtesy of Joanna Hardy.