As in every aspect of his work, Fawaz Gruosi remains fearless in exploring new materials, giving them new meaning, and infusing them with unexpected creative expression and deep emotion. He conjures modern magnificence from ancient amber.
Fawaz Gruosi has explored the mesmerising sun-golden glories of amber. He tells how he was introduced to amber by a Lithuanian friend who loves to collect amber on the beaches of the Baltic Sea, the area where the finest specimens are found.
Intrigued, Gruosi began to learn more, and when he discovered a spectacular strand of antique amber beads in a Milan antique shop, he seized the opportunity, purchased the beads, took the amber home and allowed his imagination free rein.
Warm, light, tactile and highly prized since antiquity, amber is a primordial, organic, bio-material, the fossilised resin of conifer trees that shed their unctuous sap some 50 million years ago. Forests of pine trees that covered vast plains of the European mainland were submerged as oceans swept in, sinking land masses during cataclysmic geological events. Eventually, amber washed up on the shores, a wondrous natural treasure, a sign of the divine, one of the earliest of all luxuries.
One of the most fascinating aspects of amber is the presence of organic materials that became trapped within the resinous substance - leaves, tree bark and all kinds of insects.
Each specimen is unique, each with its own character, its shape sculpted by the soil, ocean, and by time, each with its own individual inclusions that tell the story of the birth of our planet, offering a glimpse of eternity.
“To me amber is incredibly beautiful because it is made by natural phenomena, taking millions of years to be transformed.”
Amber has been skilfully carved, into cabochons or curvaceous elements, the creole shapes of drop-hoop earrings, a slender bangle inset with a single diamond, the smooth half-oval surmounts of earrings, linear yet mellifluous layers on voluptuous rings, all intended to amplify the material’s innate warmth and sensual tactility.
With characteristic panache, Fawaz Gruosi plays with the deep rich colour, combining amber unexpectedly with fuchsia pink sapphires and onyx cabochons, with rose gold, diamonds and yellow sapphires, or as the frame to a sublime aquamarine, outlined in blue sapphires.
He sets amber cabochons like gemstones, graduated, into gold drop-hoop earrings, and most dramatically of all, creates a spectacular wide cuff bangle, its centre cinched with a line of amethyst baguettes, punctuated with square, sugar-loaf studs of green jade.
Prized since antiquity for its mysterious sun-filled beauty, amber has been connected to sun myths and solar cults across cultures and civilisations. It was believed to be shed by the sun’s rays, as they dripped unctuous moisture onto earth’s soil, to be carried away by the ocean tides.
Pliny explained that the Greeks called it Elektron, the Romans Electrum, because of its magnetic properties, its ability to bear an electric charge. Amber was known and prized across the ancient world, but had been used much earlier, by Stone Age craftsmen, for tools and amulets.
AMBER AS AMULET
As a natural wonder, amber was imbued with magical and medicinal properties in ancient and medieval world. In Rome, babies wore a piece of amber around the neck to ward off evil, a custom that remained across Mediterranean and central Asian cultures.
As a medicine, amber was thought to cure fevers, and was often ground into a powder, mixed with honey and oil of roses to heal ailments.
THE AMBER ROAD
Amber was a true luxury, the Phoenicians established a trade route that came to be called the Amber Road. Through this route, much amber found its way to Northern Italy. The Etruscans, also amber traders, valued the material, lavishing it with their famous crafts skills.
This, together with the trade route and sources in Sicily accounts for amber’s popularity in Italy. The Emperor Nero is said to have ordered huge quantities of amber to be brought back from exploits in Northern Europe.
AMBER IN ART
During the 16th and 17th centuries amber was carved and sculpted by artists, often renowned court artists, into virtuoso objects that became treasures of princely Wunderkammer, particularly in Prussia, where the centre of amber carving was in Konigsberg (later Kaliningrad).
In amber’s organic composition, and its aeons-old story of metamorphosis, Fawaz Gruosi has found today’s ultimate bio-material and a very modern message of life and beauty. In its story and rarity, he has found preciousness. And in its warmth, sensuality and tactility, he has found an entirely new and exciting gem material, a new colour and texture.
With amber, he infuses his High Jewellery creations with the life force of the sun, with his own creative energy, with the fire of passion, and with each unique specimen of amber, a cocoon of precious memories, preserved forever.
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