L’Aquart: Discovering jewellery amongst lapidary art

Since time immemorial, the work of both stone-cutters and jewellers has been produced side-by-side - which many stone-studded jewels and decorative items adorned with precious metals attest to. However, the idea of making decorative objects that have a real narrative, and then embellishing them with removable jewellery is a relatively unique and interesting concept that the virtuoso lapidary Luis Alberto Quispe has nurtured for the last two years.

Who said that you have to keep jewellery locked away in the home? Imagine if your fine jewels could be a part of an amazing table piece that would look equally effective both with the jewels incorporated and without. Only you would know about its secret: that some gemstones and golden features are detachable, and you could wear these yourself as accessories.

L’Aquart ‘The Crab Prince’ in hand carved Brazilian golden rutilated quartz, gold and diamonds,  in obsidian

“My objective with L’Aquart is to keep the art of gemstone carving alive, and to fascinate people with the luxury that it manifests. For a while I was wondering how to blend the art of gemstone carving and jewellery - making in a new way, and simultaneously keeping my DNA as an artist. So far, I have materialised my ideas in three objets d’art which are my interpretations of how L’Aquart precious adornments should be displayed,” explains the master stonecutter and founder of Peruvian company L’Aquart - Luis Alberto Quispe.

L’Aquart ‘The Crab Prince’ in hand carved Brazilian golden rutilated quartz, gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and obsidian

In the first L’Aquart piece, ‘The Prince Crab’ - inspired by the eponymous fairy tale by Italian author Italo Calvino - there are five jewels, and two necklaces hidden in one: a necklace, earrings, pendant and golden rutilated quartz ring. Take a closer look at any of these sea creatures, and you will see precise formations of sapphires and rubies on their shells.

The second table piece he made, ‘Evolving Beauty’, was created for the luxury French accessory company S T Dupont. From the gold-plated branch of a tree hangs a cocoon of golden [LAQA1] rutilated quartz which conceals a hidden fountain pen holder. Next to this rests a butterfly made of gold, emeralds and quartz. Together, the butterfly and the cocoon signify life-changing moments and the evolution of everything that surrounds us. “Let go of the past, trust the future, embrace changes, come out of the cocoon, unfurl your wings, dare to get off the ground, ride the breezes, savour the flowers, put on your brightest colours and let your beauty show,” says Luis Alberto explaining the creative thought process behind his work. As well as the butterfly brooch - which can be removed from the branch - it is also possible to detach the blossoming flowers and wear them as earrings.

L’Aquart ‘Evolving Beauty’ with neoclassic fountain pen in the form of caterpillar, hand carved in Namibian chalcedony, ‘Butterfly Brooch’ in white gold with 69 faceted emeralds, and earrings in gold rutilated quartz with 3 faceted diamonds

“Creating something like this is a complicated process, and imbuing something that is functional with a meaning, blending everything together into something cohesive, these are the most challenging parts. With ‘Evolving Beauty’ I had to figure out how to use the stones, design the real shape of a cocoon and adapt it to fit a fountain pen inside as if it is not even there,” continues the craftsman as he describes the intricacies of his creation.

L’Aquart ‘Evolving Beauty’ with neoclassic large fountain pen in the form of a caterpillar, hand carved in Namibian chalcedony, ‘Butterfly Brooch’ in white gold with emeralds

During our conversation, he mentioned something else: looking for the perfect gemstone to suit a design is often not that easy and sometimes barely possible. Searching for stones at exhibitions or buying them directly from the source is not like purchasing from shops: you are not guaranteed to find the stone characteristics you need. It’s worth remembering that the possibilities of nature are not infinite, and so a designer’s decisions are limited accordingly.

“When I work on an object, either I have the idea first, or the stone defines the art piece which will come out of it. Especially if it’s a very precious stone and I want to make most of it. What I would like or need is not always available, and this is one of the greatest challenges which I have had to overcome. I have achieved this by having a vast stock of gemstones, giving me total freedom in mixing colours and creating textures,” Luis Alberto tells me.

L’Aquart ‘Never Kissed Prince Frog’ in chalcedony, obsidian and gold vermeil with ‘Lily’ ring and earrings in turquoise, diamonds, amethyst and gold, ‘Fly’ ring in tourmaline, diamonds and gold, and ‘Lips’ ring in pavé rubies and gold

Returning to L’Aquart’s creations and its latest table piece: ‘The Never Kissed Frog Prince’. The unlucky enchanted prince made of chalcedony, obsidian and gilded silver sits on a swamp made of labradorite and awaits his princess. He is readied to gift her a golden lips ring set with pavé rubies, which lies hidden under his top hat; as well as a fly ring made of gold and diamonds that whirls in his stomach, and a set of turquoise lily pad earrings and complementing ring. A team of six jewellers and lapidaires had to work together to realise this ensemble of the fairy tale hero and his kingdom.

“It’s evident that we use around 50% stones and 50% precious metals in our creations, which require craftsmen with different skill sets. In my workshop we all work in harmony, putting soul into what we create, and this is reflected in each and every art object by L’Aquart,” says Luis Alberto. With this in mind - no wonder his art creations are so full of life!

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