Review by Maja Houtman

At TEFAF, the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, you will find the best of everything in art including paintings, glass, earthenware, furniture, medieval wooden statues, Chinese sculptures, netsuke, medals, coins, jewelry, and silverware.


There is a lot of contemporary art too, but it is not my forté.  I do know something about gold and silversmithing, however, and I am drawn to three very interesting galleries.

Otto Jakob                                                      
German jeweler, Otto Jakob, who lives and works in Karlsruhe, studied techniques used by Celtic, Etruscan, and Renaissance goldsmiths.  Using the treatises of Pliny and Cellini, he creates jewelry in a remarkable mixture of historical styles. He uses stones cut in the eighteenth century that he mounts  in white and rose gold on shanks of rose gold. He then adds enamels in black Celtic themes. The combination has the look of something old and well made with a modern touch.

Jakob's study of seventeenth century stone inlay is translated into modern cufflinks and earrings. He uses all kinds of techniques such as casting, enameling, granulation, modeling, stonecutting and stone setting.  The results are perfectly made, rich pieces of art.

Please look at his website, because it is too special not to notice.



This German family, from Munich, uses precious stones in their unique, architectural jewelry.  Instead of finding large stones that are identical, they like to combine two related, but not perfectly-matched, colored stones into a set of earrings. Many pieces are pavé set with colored stones that match the primary stone. They use all kinds of colored metals including yellow, red, and white gold, steel, aluminum, and copper.

A few years ago they did an astonishing project on mushrooms, designing the brooches so well that you could actually discern the type of mushroom they were depicting.  Because all of these pieces were sold early-on, during the process of creation, none were available at TEFAF.

This year, at TEFAF, they presented a vegetable collection with cauliflower, peppers, eggplant, and peas--all made in their actual colors, pavé-set with beautiful stones, and finished with coloured lacquer. They spent two years creating these magnificent pieces.


On Hemmerle's website, you can find an article about them and their work.


Adrian Sassoon

The Adrian Sassoon Gallery shows contemporary glass, ceramics, and gold and silverwork including silver vessels by Hiroshi Suzuki, silver and steel object by Junko Mori, and gold jewelry by Jacqueline Ryan, Kayo Saito and Giovanni Corvaja.

Each is a great artist, but I especially want to introduce the work of the latter, Giovanni Corvaja. I first met Giovanni in 2010 and it was good to meet with him again this year. He is a very nice person, with a great deal of knowledge.

Over a period of several years, Giovanni  worked on a collection titled  "Golden Fleece." He created his own device for pulling lengths of wire and now is able to pull kilometres of 18 karat gold wire.  He pulls the wire to only 0.13 mm, cuts it in 3 cm pieces, and bundles it to use in jewelry that resembles golden fur. He produces rings, bracelets, and even a hat!

 With "clouds" of yellow or gold wire, sometimes coloured with shreds of glass, he creates wire constructions that make beautiful brooches and pendants


Each time I see this work, I am very happy that there is someone with the patience, the will, and the skill to work in this technique.

Giovanni Corvaja


back to the top


Review by Maja Houtman
All photographs courtesy of the respective artists.

Web design by Marbeth Schon


 Copyright © 2011 Modern Silver Magazine