Fernando Jorge & His Love Letter to Brazil

Photography:
Theresa Marx
Words:
April Ru Wan

In an industry where everything is pushed towards consumerism, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the ever-growing brands popping up on every corner. However, there’s always certain individuals whose designs speak more than what they’re selling; it tells a story – in this case, for Fernando Jorge, it’s a continuous love letter for his home, Brazil. Fernando’s success with his self-acclaimed brand began as a mere accident. At  the same time he was a student studying in Brazil, completing an internship for a manufacturer during his first year of university. After being repeatedly told to take inspiration from European brands, Fernando decided to take the leap and move to London instead. Upon landing in the UK, the jewellery founder was shocked by Europeans’ misconceptions about Brazil. Fernando shares that the situations when he felt misjudged inched him closer to flipping his references back home and the country’s beauty. His initial arrival onto the jewellery scene in London was purely drawn by the essence of Brazil – the pieces moulded on the body, allowing it to become an extension rather than an item being worn, inspired by the curves of a woman’s body. Over the last year, The Sothebys has commissioned his brand to display a selected collection of his work in New York and London with Zurich this month and Dubai next. Read our interview below to find out Fernando’s favourite pieces, pinch-me moments and his influences from Brazil.

April Wan: Your designs often reflect a unique blend of Brazilian heritage and contemporary aesthetics. Could you share more about how your Brazilian roots influence your creative process and the development of new collections?
Fernando Jorge: I got into jewellery in a very unexpected way. During my first year in design university, I got an internship at a fine jewellery manufacturer and learnt about jewellery through practical experience, spending time in the workshop and travelling for jewellery shows like BaselWorld. During these years, I was often asked to follow and “take inspiration” from European brands. This is probably why I was determined to come to get further education on jewellery in Europe. I relocated to London for the Masters in Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins, an experience that deeply shaped my personal work. When moving to London, I was confronted with stereotypes and preconceptions about Brazil, which made me look in the opposite direction, and sparked a desire to develop something that represented my cultural background. I became more aware of how Brazil’s most prominent artists and designers have a very sensual language and architects like Oscar Niemeyer have a minimal style and are significantly influenced by the curves of the female form. I concluded that my initial collection and “arrival” on the jewellery scene had to be about movement, rhythm, and sensuality. Now, these qualities are intrinsic parts of my aesthetics. My pieces are moulded around the body, conceived with the notion of how they look on the body, not covering but becoming an extension of it. Each collection takes me in a different direction, but I never want to lose touch with this initial essence of my work, even though not everything is about Brazil, I am still strongly influenced by that heritage.
AW: You are known for using locally sourced gemstones and materials in your designs. How do you go about selecting these materials, and what role do they play in the storytelling of your pieces?
FJ: Brazil is amongst the most abundant sources of coloured stones and other natural resources. That makes it a natural decision for me to work with Brazilian craftsmen and locally sourced stones. Each collection, each piece and the respective material selection are opportunities to reinforce the storytelling and express what each design represents.
AW: Your jewellery is celebrated for its fluidity and sensuality. Can you elaborate on your design philosophy and how you strive to capture these elements in your creations?
FJ: Fluidity and sensuality are my interpretation of the Brazilian essence. My design philosophy involves a lot of movement, tactility and playfulness. I capture the sensuality and the organic sense of Brazil, through movement. I use this technique of building pieces with snake chain, so they move freely with the body. The other element of sensuality is the tactility of the stones – carving hard stones as if they were soft in ways that feel nice and are inviting to touch.
AW: You have designed many collections over the last few years that are all linked by your sensuous and fluid approach. Do you have a favourite piece that for you stood the test of time and what would be a Fernando Jorge signature piece?
FJ: The Fluid Bracelet, which was part of my first collection, is a meaningful piece and still a favourite – lots of friends and family members, clients who own a few and wear them together and never take them off, so it’s a special piece. The other piece came from a few years later, the Stream Open Ring. It is almost like an embrace on the finger with open spaces on the side and a sculptural sense of movement. Then a few years later a piece I designed without the chain or carved stones, but to celebrate the brilliant cut diamond – the Disco Earrings. They created an optical illusion of not only a disco ball, but they dance and move, a piece I’m still very proud of.
AW: In your upcoming exhibition at Sotheby’s Salon, could you share with us some of the key highlights or themes that attendees can look forward to? How do these pieces reflect the evolution of your design style and artistic vision?
FJ: The opportunity to display my work at Sotheby’s is special because it comes from a place of mutual respect. Their team and their regional jewellery specialists gravitated towards my work and wanted me to showcase my existing body of work within their global network. I was the one who wanted to use this as an opportunity to also present new work and to explore themes that breathe through my work in new ways. The result is a series of exclusive pieces that touch upon themes – especially those from my earlier collections, including Fluidity, the snake chain and the carvings. 
What to expect in this group of pieces are unexpected material combinations in complementing tones – e.g., the pebbles mixed with brown diamonds, white marble with white diamonds, emeralds and malachite and amber combined with yellow diamonds.
AW: Collaborating with a prestigious institution like Sotheby’s for your exhibition is a significant achievement. How has this partnership influenced the curation of your exhibition, and what do you hope to convey to the audience through this platform?
FJ: Sotheby’s is known for, and home to, jewellery that has become representative of its time – therefore timeless classics. In thinking that way, I wanted to highlight my designs that best stood the test of time. I revisited ideas to show the evolution of my creative process over the years. Combined with my presentation of existing work, new work and exclusive for Sotheby’s that will hopefully consolidate a place for my work within their universe.
AW: Your pieces are often displayed in the same retail spaces as some of the biggest heritage brands in the world. Being an independent designer, what are some of the biggest challenges you have to deal with in order to compete with the likes of Cartier and Tiffany?
FJ: In many places my work coexists with big brands – in some ways, it’s impossible to compete, but there is a landscape and an advantage for jewellery with different stories. I am a designer, which is the key differential. My design led approach to jewellery is seen throughout my work and perceived by clients – they respond now not only to the brand, but they recognise that my work and my design style.
AW: Your brand has enjoyed tremendous success since its insertion, what was your first ‘pinch me’ moment?
FJ: That is a flattering way to put it, and it has been a very joyous and rewarding journey, but not without its challenges. Every time there is a big challenge or difficulty, we have made it through, so every achievement still gives me a pinch-me moment. Looking at my team, our recent successes, the awards I’ve received, and now here in the epicentre of the jewellery scene in London on Grafton Street, it’s a joy and I don’t take any of it for granted. 
AW: Your designs are a celebrity favourite, worn by the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce and Julia Roberts. What’s your favourite part about dressing these incredibly talented women in your pieces and is there someone who hasn’t yet worn them and who you would dream to become a ‘Fernando Jorge woman’?
FJ: It is a great feeling to be reminded of the accomplished women who have worn my jewellery, especially during pivotal and celebratory moments in their life.
I’ve long admired Cate Blanchett, I would love to see her in one of my pieces. I’m also really enjoying the new generation of actors, such as Jacob Elordi and Timothee Chalamet, their bold and adventurous approach to fashion aligns perfectly with my aesthetic.
AW: 2024 has started with a bang for you with the Sotheby’s exhibition, what else have you got planned this year?
FJ:It has been a great start to the year, with the launch of the Sotheby’s Salon London exhibition. I am touring the collection, with Sotheby’s Zurich and Dubai Salon as the following locations.
I have a very exciting new collection in the works that I plan to launch later this year. We also have exciting events planned at our Grafton Street, Mayfair location that will align with my collection launches and personal interests, such as art and design. All to create immersive and memorable experiences for our clients and community.
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