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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

An artist to attend TEFAF for.
Otto Jakob, the self-taught jeweller, does not sell in boutiques. In fact, his one-off creations can only be admired in Karlsruhe by appointment only, or in a handful of galleries in Munich and London. To tell the truth, the creatures of his fantasy world probably feel far better in art galleries than in sales stores. There is one event Otto Jakob religiously exhibits at: TEFAF. Every March in Maastricht, his flowers bloom, fish swim, hands grab, parrots and monkeys squawk. I visited him again this year.

 
I was already searching for the Lale earrings with my eyes when I entered the booth. Details of the vitreous enamel decorated yellow and white gold petals have burned into my memories from the invitation card. The natural shape of the parrot tulip petals (how appropriate in the Netherlands) and the warm yellow – red enamel tones represent Mr Jakob’s vision of the world so aptly. It is graceful and the emphasis is on the flow of form instead of on the massive gemstone settings. Diamonds discretely hide on the meandering pistils in its upper section.

Lale earrings
Lale earrings

Otto Jakob is not only a self-taught jewellery artist, but he also studied painting between 1977 and 1980 with Georg Baselitz. (The German painter became famous for his upside-down images in the seventies and his works are still widely present in various shows and permanent collections in museums or galleries throughout the world.) Although Mr Jakob stopped painting and devoted himself to jewellery making, this experience has certainly influenced his aesthetics in jewellery too.

He uses a wide spectrum of materials: oxidized white gold, rose and yellow gold, rock crystals, mother-of-pearl and gemstones like spinel, sapphire, aquamarine and diamonds. More interestingly, wood, coral, ivory and Phytelephas palm seeds are not rare to be used either. Mr. Jakob varies the processing and ornamenting techniques, such as enamelling or coral crafting/sculpturing. He has a great personal collection of minerals and crystals and from time to time, he chooses one to include in a particular creation.

 
Previously I referred to Otto Jakob’s fantasy world; I see three very distinct realms within it.

The first includes jewellery that follows the lines of Mother Nature’s flora and fauna faithfully. Lale above is a prime example, just like the Xuanas, which imitates the St. John’s Wort flower. These earrings consist of yellow gold casts of St. John’s Wort petals, the ovaries are made of white gold, set with micro pavé diamonds and surrounded by stamens and pollen grains covered again with dark red vitreous enamel. Cyphostemma betiformis leaves (an East African succulent plant) also appeared as a pair of earrings.

Xuanas earrings
Xuanas earrings
Cyphostemma betiformis leaves earrings
Cyphostemma betiformis leaves earrings

The second is the kingdom of fairy tale characters, which are worldly beings, endowed with quaint personalities. Just like the monkeys with crowns on the Badiyan chain, the Leviathan shaping a ring, or the hyacinth macaw parrots peeking out from the flower-filled cornucopia (a horn-shaped container) with flowers in their beaks. The later nest in the pendants of the Nef necklace, made with oxidised gold, briolette-cut diamonds, vitreous enamel and hand-engraving. This was the highlight of this year’s presentation at TEFAF. Beyond the admiration of the breath-taking craftwork, the love for these jewels often surfaces through some personal involvement to what it represents – just as the case of the collector who fell for the Nef necklace due to the number of parrots she had as pets.

Nef necklace
Details of the Nef necklace

The third area of Otto Jakob’s explorations is geometry. The Jamnitzer studs I saw in 2015 were an example of such and the Mjölnir one-of-a-kind swivel ring is equally a fine example. It has an ornate cloisonné enamelled hoop and a two-faced bezel: one side reveals a historical diamond, while the other shows an engraved ornament framed by micro pavé set diamonds and vitreous enamel.

 
I love discovering the novelties of Otto Jakob, which fascinate me and flood my brain with thoughts. They silently smuggle cheerfulness into life.

Mjölnir swivel ring
Mjölnir swivel ring

 

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