The many faces of jewellery
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It may be that diamonds are still a girl's best friend, but nowadays a piece of jewellery means something completely different from a ring with a stone the size of a pigeon's egg. It must have individuality, sculpturality and content. It tells just as much about it's wearer - and perhaps also its donor - as a garment.

All who buy jewellery must be on their guard and deal only with reputable manufacturers. The prudent buyer understands that a hand-crafted quality product costs. But a genuine piece of jewellery is an investment, even if only a small one, that keeps its value from generation to generation.

Finnish jewellery owes as much to tradition as to modern design. Both of these features are combined with uncompromising quality, excellent raw materials and the work of skilled hands.

Sculptural art pieces

Lapponia Jewelry is the best-known Finnish brand internationally. That in itself is a minor miracle, because hardly any brands exist in the jewellery world. The family company, which celebrated its 40th birthday last year, has concentrated on sculptural art jewellery from the very beginning.

The longest-serving member of the Lapponia design team is the sculptor Björn Weckström Other members nowadays include Denmark's Poul Havgaard, Hungarian-born Zoltan Popovits and Christoph Burger of France. "Each of the four represents a completely different language of form, so there is jewellery to suit every taste. We present a new 60 - 70-item range each year," says Lapponia Jewelry's marketing chief Alf Larsson.

The Lapponia collection contains about 650 silver, gold and platinum pieces. A stone is often used for the extra effect that light gives. Although the pieces are distinctively Finnish, they have found admirers also abroad. Some 85% of the company's output is exported, mainly to Central Europe, Scandinavia and Japan.

"Trends do not affect jewellery as much as clothing fashions, but the grey tones of silver and platinum have been popular in jewellery in recent years. If clothing fashions are becoming more colourful, we can assume that gold will soon be in greater demand," speculates Larsson.

No two the same

Have you ever dreamed of wearing a piece of jewellery the likes of which no one else possesses? Annette and Tina Tillander, sisters who are carrying on the traditions of a renowned family of goldsmiths, are accustomed to fulfilling dreams like that. They are goldsmiths of the fifth generation, in addition to which Tina is a trained gemmologist.

Along with their mother Paula, the girls work in the charming Ateljee Torbjörn Tillander in Helsinki's Kluuvikatu. They are glad that they were able to learn a trade under the tutelage of their father Torbjörn. "Our father's guiding principle was that when you make something by hand, there is no point in making any two things the same, because there are plenty of ideas. That thinking still works for us," says Tina Tillander. She and Annette produce the designs, which seven goldsmiths in the workshop upstairs transform into jewellery.

The Tillander girls are pioneers and trailblazers in jewellery fashion. Their way of combining coloured gemstones and pearls gives a classical style a distinctive expression.

"We do everything by hand and an enormous amount of work goes into each piece. We become impatient when we are not able to implement all of our ideas at once. The number of customer commissions is constantly growing and here in the studio we create new models whenever we find the time," says Tina.

The proportion of women in their clientele has clearly increased. Now women, too, are allowed to pamper themselves with jewellery. They often want to buy pieces that suit also everyday use."

Kalevala Koru - echoes from antiquity

Everyone in Finland knows the Kalevala Koru range. The Kalevala is the Finnish national epic and "koru" means "jewellery". The range, consisting of replicas of archaeological finds and other items from museums, was launched in 1935 and the pieces are very popular with visitors looking for presents to take home from a trip to Finland. In the nearly fifty years after that the company made bronze, silver and gold copies of millennia-old Finnish designs.

"Now we have allowed ourselves a little more room for variation even in pieces with a very historical character. Of course, they still have a past and content, but they are no longer exact replicas. One doesn't always have to go back thousands of years. At the beginning of this year we launched a Jugendstil range," explains Kalevala Koru's MD Marja Usvasalo.

The company also has a second, modern product line, the main creator of which is Kirsti Doukas, one of the top names among young Finnish jewellery designers.

"Our products are best-known in Finland, Sweden and northern Germany. Now we have been trying to reach a broader clientele by introducing new ranges. We are exporting about a third of our output at present, but that proportion is certain to increase soon," says Marja Usvasalo.