Houston-based designer Shelley Marks Weathers and her firm Pontiel Jewellery have earned a spot in sustainable jewellery historical past by repurposing uncommon and beautiful vintage and classic glass items in unique, luxurious 21st century designs. These are hanging as they echo bygone glamour and historic motifs, and they’re primarily set in gleaming sterling silver and vermeil. (Weathers can create 18-karat or larger gold items for bespoke shoppers.) Pontiel jewels embrace vintage iridescent Egyptian Revival scarab beetle pendants, aquamarine glass plaques of Artwork Deco-era feminine silhouettes; gracefully etched sunrays, flowers and different enchanting life kinds. Sourcing her uncommon supplies within the U.S. and throughout Europe, Weathers sells her jewels on her Instagram, @pontieljewelry, on the Pontiel website, and within the Houston luxurious division retailer, Kuhl-Linscombe.
Whereas all Pontiel jewels gleam with refined glass components that have been made within the 4 many years earlier than World Conflict II broke out, every one incorporates uncommon or one-of-a-kind components. Consequently, there’s an intriguing historic aura, texture and presence of the previous embodied in these adornments. As Weathers explains, “I’m passionate concerning the intricacies and motifs in every bit of etched, molded or pierced glass that I discover. The distinctive traits, tones and colours of every piece are what make them intriguing, uncommon and collectible.”
For instance, pierced, etched and molded glass plaque designs have been mass manufactured within the years previous World Conflict II in numerous colours and sculptural shapes, akin to pyramids, lozenges, octagons, squares or circles. These variously embodied such extremely detailed motifs as feminine figures, long-legged wading birds, floral bouquets, luscious fruits, summary Cubist designs or radiant sunrays. Weathers additionally collects and makes use of camphor glass in a few of her jewellery designs. Frosted-looking, semi-opaque and related in look to carved rock crystal, camphor glass items have been made through the Artwork Deco period (circa 1908 -1935). Its distinctive misty impact was created by treating clear colorless, blue or pink glass with vaporized hydrofluoric acid.
All Pontiel items are handmade in Houston by three grasp artisans. Requested to call a few of her favourite creations, Weathers instantly replies, “The Tamara Bracelet. Set in sterling silver, the aqua coloured glass panels on this are from Paris. The back-to-back feminine nude bathing figures are harking back to the works of the good 20th century artists Carl Werner and Tamara de Lempicka.” Then there may be the Astrid Bracelet, set in sterling silver. “The glass on this piece is a quintessential instance of the cubist aesthetic in design,” Weathers says. “It’s a uniquely angular and geometric piece influenced by Cubist portray and sculpture.” The rarest piece in her assortment is a frosted glass pendant with intricately molded birds and leaves. Delicate and spectacular, it’s an Artwork Deco-era piece from France, within the model of René Lalique.” [Writer’s Note: in a 2003 auction, a 20-inch long, circa 1930 René Lalique necklace, featuring twenty-eight carved and frosted, colorless glass songbirds, each perched atop a rectangular-shaped clear glass link, sold for $28,680 at Christie’s.]
Because it occurs, “My absolute favourite piece is an ideal instance of Artwork Deco geometry, combined with flowers and straight traces,” Weathers says. “The other way up, it seems to be like an Artwork Deco skyscraper. “It’s so unbelievable. I’m hoping to make a mildew out of it and reproduce it within the close to future.” An artwork historian by coaching, Weathers notes, “These items are extra than simply glass. They’re ornamental objects with historic and cultural significance. They’re symbolic artifacts of a slower time, when craftsmanship was extremely thought of, and reflective of motifs in artwork and design that have been contemporaneous to the items.” Most of the glass components that animate Pontiel Jewellery got here from the multi-generational, family-run glass studios that shut down due to World Conflict II. As Weathers notes, “The strategies that have been used earlier than the Conflict stay obscure and un-replicated. Considered one of my objectives is to design and produce my very own glass items utilizing these conventional strategies.”
Weathers units her etched, pierced and molded glass into sterling silver, vermeil and gold jewellery. “Most factories that had been producing glass to be used in jewellery and different equipment within the former Czechoslovakia, France and Germany have been both transformed to supply supplies for the warfare effort or shut down by their house owners,” she notes. This time of chaos, together with Europe’s extended post-war restoration, put an finish to mass manufacturing of etched, pierced or molded glass components for jewellery.
In keeping with Weathers, her favourite jewellery designers embrace Lalique, Buccellati, Elsa Peretti and Anabela Chan, together with Shaun Leane, Ted Muehling and Lalaounis. As she tells it, “I’ve all the time been creatively pre-occupied with coloration, mild and transparency. I studied portray and artwork historical past at Occidental School in Los Angeles, the place my fascination with the transparency of paint developed right into a severe curiosity in glass as a jewellery materials.”
After graduating from Occidental, Weathers labored in varied museums and galleries in Los Angeles and London. “Again within the Nineties,” she relates, “I purchased a superb pair of Artwork Deco glass earrings at Merola, a London boutique, and that bought me hooked on classic and vintage glass as a jewellery materials.” Across the similar time that she purchased these Artwork Deco earrings, Weathers started designing luxurious hair equipment adorned with glass components and Swarovski crystals for her model, Shelley Marks Equipment. “My items bought all over the world at Harrod’s in London, varied Neiman Marcus shops throughout the U.S. and in addition at Barneys in New York and Beverly Hills, CA.,” she remembers. Hair equipment by Weathers have been additionally typically featured editorially in U.S. and worldwide editions of Vogue and Elle.
After many years of amassing classic glass components from all over the world, Weathers shaped Pontiel in 2019 as a inventive avenue to glorify the glass in her assortment. As Philip Jelley, Senior Vice-President and Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s New York Valuations Division observes, “Collectors in any case are custodians of artwork and tradition for future generations.” Weathers agrees, including, “I’m a collector who can be a designer who provides new life to those extraordinary classic or vintage glass components.” Explaining the which means of her model’s title, she continues, “A pontiel is an iron rod utilized in glass-making for rotating the glass whereas it’s delicate. As a result of I’m so intrigued by and respectful of glass artisans, I named my jewellery model Pontiel.”
Like all connoisseurs, Weathers is a devoted sleuth who by no means reveals her sources. “Let’s simply say I’ve a community of suppliers all over the world,” she says with fun. “I’ve been gathering for many years and in the intervening time I’ve over 500 items. The entire thing about individuals within the classic glass world,” she relates, “is that they’re actually secretive and protecting of their sources. After making a zillion telephone calls,” Weathers recollects, “I ultimately discovered a girl that had been gathering classic glass for 60 years. The magnitude of nice issues she has in her assortment is astounding.”
A number of the most spectacular items that Weathers owns and infrequently units into bespoke or retail jewels embrace iridescent scarab beetles that radiate vibrant colours that change in accordance with the ambient mild. As Weathers explains, “The phrase iridescent comes from Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Examples of naturally iridescent supplies embrace peacock feathers, opals, blue Morpho butterflies, oil slicks and cleaning soap bubbles.” Though Weathers has set some iridescent scarabs into earrings and pendants, she’s guarding a number of the scarabs for herself, as she suspects they might have been made across the flip of the 20th century by the good New York-based jeweler Louis Consolation Tiffany. “These items look remarkably much like Tiffany’s Favrile iridescent glass,” Weathers notes. “I treasure them.”
[Writer’s note: Favrile glass is a type of iridescent art glass created by Louis Comfort Tiffany. After patenting this process in 1894, he first produced Favrile for manufacture in 1896 in the “Tiffany Furnace” factory in Corona, Queen, across the river from New York City.]
“The magic of the classic and vintage glass that I take advantage of in my designs lies within the obscure however masterly artisanal strategies concerned in making these items,” Weathers ventures. Utilized arts specialists like Jelley places the work of Weathers in one other mild. “What Pontiel brings to the desk,” he says, “is curating photographs and supplies which have been misplaced within the firmament and bringing them new relevance.”
“Glass is a tremendous materials, “ Weathers says. “Since antiquity, glass has been made to embody each coloration within the rainbow plus gold, silver and copper, but glass can enable mild to move by it and create dramatic results,” Weathers concludes. “This makes it a super materials for jewellery of uncommon magnificence. I hope to broaden my assortment, indefinitely!”