Björn Weckström: Lapponia and Princess Leia

Björn Weckström

Björn Weckström

Björn Weckström, the designer behind Lapponia, received an interesting phone call in spring 1976. George Lucas's secretary placed the call to inquire about commissioning silver jewelry pieces for a new movie that Lucas currently had in production - the title of the movie was never revealed during the call. Lucas was specifically after jewelry designed by Björn Weckström. The scene for which the jewelry would be needed was going to be filmed in approximately 6 weeks. 
George Lucas was not a known name in Finland, and Weckström didn't know him either, but he was intrigued by the project. Space and science fiction themes had been present in his earlier work, so the thought of designing jewelry for a space adventure movie was fascinating.


Weckström started to sketch a necklace suitable for the movie, but his work was soon interrupted when Lucas's secretary contacted him again. There had been a change in the filming sequence of the scenes, and the jewelry would be needed already in a week's time – a week was too short for that. Weckström had to tell the secretary that the situation was impossible.
The conversation then turned to Lapponia's existing collection. The movie was currently being filmed at the Elstree studios near London and several jewelry stores in Europe kept Lapponia's products in stock. As luck would have it there was a Lapponia retailer on Bond Street in London. Weckström gave the address to the secretary who said that the production team would go and look at the collection available.
In the store the production team had found just the right kind of jewelry for the scene and later sent a message to Weckström that stated that Lucas thought the jewelry was fantastic. Weckström was happy for the success, even though he still didn't know in which movie the jewelry would be displayed. There was no communication from the production team after the last message.
Star Wars premiered in Finland as late as on 16th of December 1977. A friend of Björn Weckström's saw one of the first screenings of the movie in Finland, and immediately recognised Weckström's jewelry in the final scene of the movie (the award ceremony). Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) wears the necklace "Planetoid Valleys" and "Darina's Bracelet" as she presents medals to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford).
Soon, Weckström himself went to see the movie. Seeing his own jewelry on a big screen, in an international movie was quite an experience. When designing the Space Silver collection in 1969, Weckström could not have imagined that the pieces would become a part of a cult phenomenon.

Poema, Björn Weckström

Poema, Björn Weckström

The interruption of the design work that was started for the movie later bothered the designer and after seeing the movie, Weckström returned to his original sketches. From these sketches he developed his ideas further. The Poema necklace was based on the original design, and this necklace was manufactured in limited series during the 1990's.
Planetoid Valleys and Darina's Bracelet are still available in Lapponia's collection: 

Planetoid Valleys
Darina's Bracelet

IMDBWikipedia, Lapponia archives, Lucasfilm Ltd

Falling for Hemmerle

Hemmerle ring, diamond, copper, white gold,  Courtesy of Hemmerle

Hemmerle never fails to impress and delight. The New York fall preview that took place last week was no exception. Hemmerle jewelry can be somewhat of an enigma when first encountered. Precious stones mingle with seemingly common materials such as wood, copper, or aluminium. Clean architectual lines mingle with flouncing tassles and playful shapes. Often it feels as though as though Hemmerle is daring you to rethink your ideas about high end jewelry. Good art makes you think, and that's what Hemmerle's pieces do. 
Hemmerle is a fourth generation family run jeweler that was established in 1893. Today Stefan and Sylveli Hemmerle run the business alongside their son, Christian, and his wife, Yasmin. With a long and illustrious history including an appointment as 'Purveyor to the Court' by Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria in 1895, you would expect the atmosphere to be stiff; however, stepping into the small suite at the Hotel Plaza Athénée there was immediately a sense of intimacy and familiarity. Part of what makes Hemmerle special is the familial nature of the business. 
The jewelry that Hemmerle creates is strikingly original. The roots are that of modern minimalism but there is a juxtaposition that occurs because Hemmerle has never strayed from the humanness of jewelry creation. Just as every human is unique, so is every Hemmerle creation. Each piece of jewelry is a singular creation never to be repeated. A single piece can take over 500 hours of work to create, and this is only after the perfect stones and materials have been chosen. 

This can mean that a piece has actually taken years to complete. Christian Hemmerle explains, “We find the perfect stone and then create a distinctive design especially for it. The design then becomes a reality in our Munich atelier. We are always experimenting with new materials to find the perfect combinations for a stone; in a recent pairs of earrings we used concrete and aluminium.” The result of Hemmerle's continued evolution was a lovely sight to behold.
The cases were filled with Hemmerle's signature styles including structural pieces with geometric lines. The open-ended harmony bangle with its
seamless closure, tassel and gemstones set upside down to give a 'spiky' almost organic look while maintaining a modern edge. Copper, stainless steel and unusual varieties of wood seamlessly mingled with rare stones like striking tourmaline, beryl, and sphene as well as other materials including Egyptian faience figures, pebbles, and even a smoothed stone that was picked up on a beach. Stunning sun-orange melo pearls from the South China Sea mingled in a case with soft sandblasted moonstones set in sandblasted gold, creating a warm touchable look. Hemmerle is also one of the few jewelers to use an old Austrian technique of knitting cut stones in the round over silk. Each bead is hand hewn and drilled then matched for color. 

Hemmerle atelier. Courtesy Hemmerle

Hemmerle atelier. Courtesy Hemmerle

A question that is often asked about Hemmerle pieces is how wearable are they? The answer is: very. This was demonstrated to me by Yasmin, when she removed her earring exclaiming "You have to feel this!" The large two inch long or so "pine cone" was incredibly light. Hemmerle’s use of clever engineering means pieces are carefully weighted to be surprisingly light and have the perfect balance of movement. 
The stars of the show, so to speak, were pieces that featured tiny, individually made, copper leaves. They cradled a beautiful, warm brown-diamond in a ring, formed earrings accented by tiny brown diamonds, and formed the anchor point from which two rare and beautiful cut ammonite cabochons were suspended. Fall was definitely in the air. 

Hemmerle jewelry reflects those who create it. It is a long process and there is an unmistakable human touch in every part of the process. Yasmin spoke highly of how Hemmerle's pieces are created from Stefan's first sketch through to the finishing touches. A few moments after she said this, I was able to witness the beginning of this process as Stefan placed himself in a sunlit corner of the suite and sat calmly, engrossed in sketching a design for a client. She continued that they are always looking, and ideas and innovation can grow out of out anything, even out of what at first may appear to be an error. She said, "Sometimes there is beauty in human error. We are all human after all."  She explained that the processes that allow them to maintain high standards of quality also keep them from growing distant from their work. The human connection is what makes Hemmerle stand apart. Hemmerle is not just a brand; it is a relationship. Each piece of jewelry has a story, and creates its own stories. Hemmerle invites you not just to buy jewelry, but to have a relationship with it. 

Hemmerle’s work can be bought at its Maximilianstrasse boutique in Munich, online and by appointment at private sales around the world. For further information please visit

The creative philosophy behind Hemmerle’s designs was sparked by a commission from a client, an art collector who ‘detested flashy gems.’ She wore examples of early 19th century Berlin iron jewellery: neo-classical, architectural cast iron ornaments worn by patriotic Germans in place of gold, which they donated to the War effort during the War of Liberation, 1813-15. With this in mind, Stefan Hemmerle decides to set an important diamond in a ring of textured iron.

Photos: First photo set taken by author. Second photo set provided by Hemmerle, please rollover images with your mouse to see descriptions

Kathleen Marino MA, GG, AJP, NAJA

Victoire de Castellane


Victoire de Castellane, is known for her spectacularly unexpected color combinations and bold imaginative style. Everything is one-of-a-kind: no two are alike. The jewelry is fun, whimsical, colorful wearable art. Her pieces tell stories that enchant, delight, and challenge all the conventions of high jewelry with their playfulness.

Victoire de Castellane was born into the French aristocratic House of Castellane, that can trace their lineage back to the 10th century. Her family tree includes reigning princes, bishops, generals and noblemen. One of the more notable members was De Castellane’s great-grand-uncle Boni de Castellane (1867–1932). He was a Parisian dandy and legend of the Belle Époque who married American railroad heiress Anna Gould. 
De Castellane was brought up by her maternal grandmother and her uncle, Gilles Dufour, who was one of Karl Lagerfeld’s principal assistants, first at Fendi then Chanel. 
De Castellane credits her love of jewelry and it's creation to watching her paternal grandmother, Silvia Rodriguez de Rivas, Countess de Castilleja de Guzman, "change her baubles to match her different outfits several times a day." Her first jewelry-making feat was accomplished at the age of five when she dismantled a priceless charm-bracelet belonging to her mother, transforming it into a pair of earrings. At 12, she created her first ring using gold melted down from the religious medals she’d received at her Communion ceremony. 
It is this rich family heritage that both inspires and shapes her work:
                           “I love the idea of artisanal work, craftsman work, and I have all kinds of influences.
                                    See, I am Parisian-born, but my grandmother was Spanish, and I have Cuban blood
                                    from my great uncle. But, what can I say? I feel like a French woman; Paris is really
                                    my city, my town. I do love to travel, though, especially to Latin countries, to stay close
                                    to my Latin roots. My grandmother was from Andalusia—she was a really strong character
                                    and very feminine. She was always matching her clothes to her jewelry  always wearing
                                    lipstick, her nails painted until she was 90.”

In the early 1980s, the teenage de Castellane frequented famed Parisian nightclubs such as Le Palace where she first experimented with dressing up in playful, flamboyant styles, often sporting Mickey Mouse ears or a devil’s horns headband and wearing lingerie on the outside of her clothing.
This creativity and irreverent regard for the conventional "rules" for fashion lead her to join Chanel in 1984 where she started as a studio assistant. Soon she was working alongside Chanel legend Karl Lagerfeid overseeing the house’s costume jewelry designs. She continued at Chanel for 14 years during which time Lagerfeld remarked, "She follows the rules I like best in life: Don't compare. Don't compete. You look at her. You get the message." (The New York Times, 1987)


Since 1998, she has been the creative director of Christian Dior’s fine jewelry division.  Her sources of inspiration are said to include floral and natural motifs, as well as a global mix of pop culture, such as "Technicolor, Alice in Wonderland, Manga characters, the Brothers Grimm, Walt Disney Pictures, Venus Flytraps, Bassett’s Liquorice allsorts, the visual excesses of Bollywood and the darkest depths of the subconscious." -"Affluence Under the Influence", W (magazine)
Every year de Castellane creates a High Jewelry collection and at least one Fine Jewelry collection for Dior Joaillerie, as well as numerous one-off pieces. 
As of June 2012, there are 40 Dior Joaillerie stores in 17 different countries. 


De Castellane also produces her own collection, Victoire de Castellane, which includes high jewelry, one-of-a-kind pieces. In 2011, de Castellane had her first solo exhibition of personal work at Gagosian Gallery in Paris. The exhibit entitled Fleur d’excès, the show featured a collection of ten one-off pieces with faux-classificatory monikers such as: L. Es Delirium Flash, Quo Caïnus Magic Disco and Heroïna Romanticam Dolorosa. 
In 2014 "Animalvegetablemineral", the second personal exhibition of unique object by Victoire de Castellane was presented at Gagosian Gallery Davies Street, London & Gagosian Madison avenue, New York. 
De Castellane's latest work for Dior is entitled Soie and is inspired by silk strands and fabric. She recently told Vogue Magazine that “It’s fantastic—you start with the idea of something very soft, but you work with something hard,” Diamonds, cut and set to mimic the shine and movement of fabric, along with pink sapphires in gold, intended to evoke pleating. Everything is one-of-a-kind and again de Castellane demonstrates her unique idea of color spectacularly pairing the unexpexted. 
Naturally, when you pour so much passion and love into gemstones and the pieces that are created aaround them you develop an attachment and sometimes it is difficult to let them go. De Castellane confessed to Vogue Magazine and has said, “I hope they will be happy in another family." One can only imagine that her clients who anxious await her collections will cherish these pieces of de Castellane's exquisite imagination

Current Collection

The most recent High Fashion Collection Designed for Dior is entitles Soie and is inspired by silk strands as well as the look and movement of fabric.





A Selection of Past Collections and Exhibits

Her personal work has been exhibited in art settings, including her solo show, Fleur d’excès, at Gagosian Gallery in 2011, and her second personal exhibition of unique object in January and March 2014  called "Animalvegetablemineral" presented at Gagosian Gallery Davies Street, London & Gagosian Madison avenue, New York.



One of the most striking collections created by de Castellane is the 2009 Reines et Rois Haute Joaillerie collection of 20 one-of-a-kind pieces, featuring ten queen rings and ten king pendants. Each with names evoking the stones that make up this imaginary kingdom. Reines et Roi premiered at Dior's world famous Townhouse, 30 avenue Montaigne, Paris. The collection invited viewers to enter a darkened room where they discovered (thanks to a complex and sophisticated lighting process) all the kings and queens appeared to be floating in dark windows creating a ghostly effect.
The skulls borrow stylistically from the Baroque. The skulls are sculpted in stones that each have their own lore of bygone eras attached to them: Chrysolite was used in the Middle Ages to embellish church ornaments; Jasper was worn as an amulet to cure headaches, and Jade which was reportedly beneficial for the kidneys.
In the collection Victoire de Castellane was able to stretch her creativity and imagination extravagant levels both in use of color, but also in the design of the headdresses, crowns, ruffs, necklaces and pendants on these royal figures. Meticulously created platinum mesh-work requiring many setting techniques (including an ancient technique that was rediscovered).

In 2008 a collection entitled Milly Carnivora was designed by Victoire de Castellane for Dior. This collection was inspired by the previous collection Belladone. The collection based on fantasy tropical flowers and carnivorous plants featured eye-popping neon color schemes. 



Pieces from Dior Joaillerie’s Belladone Island collection were premiered on January 12, 2007 on the online virtual world Second Life. The entire collection was subsequently presented on February 27 in an exhibition in Monet’s Water Lilies room at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris.




Photos provided by Dior, Vogue, Mike Bruce © Victoire de Castellane. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss

Kathleen Marino MA, GG, AJP, NAJA 

Tiara Titan: Andrew Prince

Lady Cora Crawley donned this pearl tiara. Prince noted that this piece is in the Russian band style (1910 – 1915), which was popularized by Grand Duchess Vladimir (1854 – 1920). Cartier produced a number of these pieces. Prince added Edwardian elements in the scroll work. Courtesy of Andrew Prince.

Lady Cora Crawley donned this pearl tiara. Prince noted that this piece is in the Russian band style (1910 – 1915), which was popularized by Grand Duchess Vladimir (1854 – 1920). Cartier produced a number of these pieces. Prince added Edwardian elements in the scroll work. Courtesy of Andrew Prince.

It's 1912, and life in the Edwardian country house of Downton Abbey is idyllic and bustling for the Crawley household. Viewers of this wildly popular show soon developed an obsession with not only the engaging human characters, but also with the fashion that seemed to be a character unto itself.  This is due in large part to the jewelry that Andrew Prince has created. 

This tiara Tuesday is a little different. Usually we focus on tiaras with a long history, but Andrew Prince, is bringing the historical looks of a bygone era back to life, not only in the show but also for anyone who wants to feel like an aristocrat. 


Andrew Prince sites that his passion for jewelry has existed since childhood when he created "a necklace for his mother using beads taken off her wedding dress (she was not at all happy)."
But it was a visit to the ‘Princely Magnificence’ exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where Prince became entranced by the exhibited jewels dating from 1500 to 1630.  It was then that Prince decided creating jewelry was what he wanted to devote his life to.  

In 1987, he went to a preview of the Geneva Sotheby’s auction of the Duchess of Windsor's jewelry. There “he held pieces created by some of the world's greatest jewellers, fashioned from only the finest of stones and set in designs of outstanding quality.” It was life-altering for the young Prince. Soon after he started work in London’s Bond Street, working for the 'Antiques Roadshow' expert Ian Harris. Under his tutelage, Prince developed an appreciation for the quality of design and craftsmanship of jewelry, rather than focusing solely on how much the stones in the piece were worth.

He then joined the renowned contemporary jeweller Elizabeth Gage and worked with her on the design and production side of the jewelry industry. He soon developed a sense of what would be possible for him to accomplish in jewelry design. Prince started designing jewelry that was bold, luxurious and large. His work caught the attention of Isabella Blow of Vogue Magazine. She wore his choker-necklace and bracelets to the 1992 opening party of Gianni Versace’s first Bond Street shop. Isabella then featured the pieces in Vogue - modelled by Helena Christensen.

These early experiences with his mentors and the exposure that they afforded him shaped Prince’s taste for fine 'costume jewellery'. Prince continues to believe that beautiful jewelry doesn’t require expensive stones, and that it is the elegance of the design and the quality of the workmanship that truly matters. Prince credits the inspiration for his first small collection of 'fine crystal jewelry' as being inspired by an encounter with a late Victorian brooch set in an antique market. The piece was so well crafted that he initially thought the stones were emeralds and diamonds. They were, in fact, crystal and green glass set in silver and gold, yet it was not the stones that set the worth of the piece but the quality of craftsmanship. 


Fast forward to 2002, the Victoria and Albert Museum commissioned a collection of jewels to accompany the resplendent ‘Tiaras, Past and Present’ exhibition. This exhibition became one of the V&A’s most popular exhibits and the exposure gained by the show then led to Prince's jewelry into the world of film.

In 2005, he was asked to make tiaras and jewellery for ‘Mrs Henderson presents’ starring Judy Dench. In 2009, pieces were commissioned for ‘The Young Victoria’ starring Emily Blunt and Miranda Richardson.

In 2012, his fame reached new heights as he was chosen by the creators of Downton Abbey to supply a large collection of jewelry for the third series. The characters played by Maggie Smith, Shirley Maclaine, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery were all adorned with elegant tiaras, combs, earrings and necklaces all designed by Prince.

He got the job through Geoffrey Munn, the managing director of Wartski, an exclusive London jeweler. As Prince describes it, “The program contacted Munn and said, ‘Can you lend us some tiaras?’  He said, ‘No. They’re real and we can’t let them go for nine weeks. But have you met Andrew?’ And it went from there.”

When Prince met with the show’s costume designer, Caroline McCall he was frank in pointing out that, “The clothes are sublime, but the jewellery doesn’t match.” He recalls saying, “The jewellery, as worn, isn’t correct for the characters. Lady Cora is an American heiress and would have big punchy diamonds. Lady Mary would have fine delicate pearl stuff.” Prince believes that while matching the clothes and jewelry to the personality of characters is important, matching the era is even more important. In an interview with The Savannah College of Art and Design Prince expanded on how important it is for the show to be mindful of the time periods and especially of the transitional periods that see eras overlapping when choosing the jewelry that is used:

"With costume design, one of the important things is not so much to match the jewelry with the costume, but to match the jewelry with the age of the person. You might get someone in the 1930s in their 60s wearing a modern dress, but her jewelry would be 20 or 30 years older than that. It wouldn’t be up to date because most people buy their jewelry in their 30s, 40s and 50s when they look their best. Using Maggie Smith Downton character the Dowager Countess as an example, all her jewelry would have been Victorian and Edwardian pieces. She would not have had Art Deco piece. Sometimes you see period dramas where you have a matron wearing modern jewelry and that’s totally wrong. It’s like if you can imagine someone in their 60s today wearing someone like Stephen Webster. It wouldn’t happen or it would be very unusual." 

Prince also makes sure to craft pieces with the characters personalities in mind and which styles she would prefer. As mentioned before he envisioned the American heiress Lady Cora (who would represent new money) in big impressive diamonds whereas Lady Mary would have refined delicate pieces. Prince has commented that the Dowager Countess, Maggie Smith is especially particular about what she wears. 

Prince has lent them well over 200 pieces from his stock; everything from simple earrings to long strands of pearls, but all the big stuff is designed specifically for Downton. In total, he’s created about 40 pieces. Tiaras are the most useless and the most fantastic," Prince told the New York Post. " [but] They always make a lady feel better." 

In April of last year Prince embarked on a U.S. tour that included Bergdorf Goodman, which sells his designs, and Kleinfelds in New York City. With his beautiful line of jewelry and tiaras now available, anyone and everyone wanting to feel the luxury of wearing a tiara (if only for a day) has the opportunity. But Prince has three simple rules for wearing them correctly:

1. “Make sure it’s not uncomfortable. If it is a round band, very circular, it is going to pinch like crazy, it is going to dig in like crazy at the front and the sides. It should be oval. No one’s head is round.”

2. “See the way the tiara is angled. If you put it flat on a table, the tiara should be leaning forward, not at a right angle. When you put the tiara on, because you’re angling it to go around your face, the front has to lean forward to sit upright”

3. As for seating a tiara for maximum attractiveness, Prince has a law of proportions: “Put your thumb on your chin, and the index finger on the bridge of your nose, between your eyebrows. Take that measurement, and put your thumb where your index finger was. Where your finger now touches your head should be where the base of the tiara is, because it makes your eyes the centre of your face.”

And please, do not wear it flat to the head like an Alice band—that drives him crazy, since it gives the ceiling a lovely view of the piece, while denying that pleasure to everyone else at the event.

See his beautiful collection of tiaras and jewels at Prince's website.

Kathleen Marino M.A., G.G., AJP, NAJA

Photos: Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising/FIDM,, BBC Television, The Getty Museum, The Young Victoria