By Erika Winters
First, it was such a pleasure meeting jewelry artist Christine Huber, who collaborated with Yael Designs on the company’s new Novelique Collection, at the JCK show earlier this summer. Christine’s energy and passion for jewelry is so inspiring, and her conversation is so engaging, that we left the booth at Yael Designs feeling a special kinship with this talented designer.
As we talked about Novelique, Christine not only explained the collection’s features, but she shared her design process, giving us a window into her fascinating world. Novelique was inspired by Christine’s trip to Turkey, and especially Istanbul, where her senses were enlivened by the textures and patterns adorning everyday objects around the city. You will see this subtle influence in Novelique. These are contemporary designs that explore ancient motifs and play on current trends–but in lasting style.
Novelique’s “halo” designs are a unique departure from classic pavé styles à la Harry Winston. The halos are wider–surrounding the center stones with diamonds and engraving for a more substantial look. And the solitaire designs showcase a classic sensibility but with intimate details–including organic florals that wind softly around tiny accent diamonds sparkling in the light.
We sat down with Christine for a Q&A to share her process and artwork with you. From her lovely renderings to her design influences, learn more about Christine Huber and the Novelique Collection for Yael Designs!
Novelique Collection: engagement ring style 09281 in 18k white gold • Image by Erika Winters at JCK 2014
Q&A with Christine Huber
EW: We love that your Novelique collection for Yael Designs was inspired by your trip to Turkey. Tell us more about your trip and how it influenced your designs.
Christine Huber: I was invited to a wedding in Istanbul and traveled for a few extra weeks along the coast and throughout the interior of Turkey to really experience the local culture, food, and history of each area. Turkey is one of the most spectacular countries I’ve been to with its ancient Greek ruins along the gorgeous coastline. But Istanbul was the icing on the cake! The visual beauty, smells, bazaars, and delicious food is just completely unforgettable. What really inspired the Novelique Collection was my tour of the Topkapi Palace, where everything from the tile work on the walls to the colors and patterns of the ceramics, textiles, furniture, and jewelry were exceptionally crafted. I wanted to bring that idea of “everyday beauty” to a modern day bridal line, so that when a women wears one of my rings she could really appreciate it as a work of art and be delighted in looking at it as much as wearing it.
Novelique Collection: engagement ring style 09282 in 18k white gold • Images by Erika Winters at JCK 2014
EW: You’ve been working in jewelry for over 15 years with a background in art and design. Tell us more about what spurred your jewelry career.
Christine Huber: I’ve always loved painting and drawing, since elementary school. So when it was time to think about my career, making jewelry seemed like a natural extension of that and the most exciting way to spend my future! I also love the idea that jewelry and metal work are what’s found in archeological digs. Jewelry has stood the test of time and continues to be a sought after and cherished medium.
As for working, I started out very humbly. My first job was cleaning castings with Alex Sepkus, right in the heart of the NYC jewelry district. After Alex, I worked for Jenny Lessard and it was Jenny who noticed my drafting talent and took me off the bench to work at the drafting table. I found that I loved drafting and drawing jewelry more than constructing it. It motivated me to take some extra courses at FIT, and found myself working as a jewelry designer for the next 13 years.
EW: Do you fabricate jewelry?
Christine Huber: Yes! I still carve wax, pierce out metal, hammer, and form jewelry right here in my home studio in New York City. I majored in jewelry construction at FIT, so I learned all of the different methods to construct jewelry. Actually knowing how jewelry is constructed really helps me as a designer.
Novelique Collection: engagement ring style 09342 in 18k white gold • Images by Erika Winters at JCK 2014
EW: Your design renderings are so lovely. Tell us more about your process.
Christine Huber: Thank you! I love looking at the books I’ve collected from the various cities, museums, and locations I’ve visited for ideas. I pull from a lot of architectural and furniture details because their forms and patterns inspire my drawings. I especially love looking at floral and natural forms, and how they are translated into ornamental objects. I always have my phone on me while traveling and take many spontaneous snap shots that later on inspire me.
My process of drawing is also old-fashioned. I still use mechanical pencils, templates, and lovely heavy-weight vellum. All the drawings I create are done by hand, I feel that there’s a natural proportion that only can be achieved by hand, especially when it relates to jewelry!
Design rendering by Christine Huber of engagement ring style 09284 • Image courtesy of Yael Designs
EW: We love how the Novelique collection includes some very unique halo styles. Talk to us about the halo trend and your inspiration.
Christine Huber: I wanted to create an updated version for more style conscious women, but also the active woman. I think the halo design has been too overused recently and has become completely uninspired. My engagement line is all about meaning and beauty, so that means creating a story around the line, which in my case is the trip to Turkey. Just setting diamonds in metal, as in the case of the regular halo (and most engagement ring styles out there) is really an unattractive idea to me. Instead, in the Novelique Collection, I wanted to make sure that each piece is unique and carefully thought through. I was excited when I started working with Yael Designs on making this collection as they are one of the few jewelry makers that I admire for their craftsmanship and quality, so I knew that we could make some very unique pieces together!
Novelique Collection: engagement ring style 09276 • Images by Erika Winters at JCK 2014
EW: Any advice for our readers on choosing an engagement ring?
Christine Huber: This may sound a bit too practical, but I would tell my clients to choose a ring that’s going to be really comfortable for everyday wear. I don’t like the idea of having to take your ring on and off. For example, if you’re a nurse, then go for a ring with a lower profile and perhaps a bezel setting would be more practical as it wouldn’t snag latex gloves. If you’re physically active like me, then the “traditional” halo is not going to work. I think women should select a ring that complements their lifestyle.
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