Putting the art in jewelry

    Leeroy New’s ‘Seraph’ collection inspired by religious iconography

    Leeroy New’s ‘Seraph’ collection inspired by religious iconography

    Fine jewelry and local artistry. These are the two elements that make up Denovo Diamonds, a new and proudly Filipino-made jewelry brand, which opened its very boutique at the Century City Mall in Makati City this month.

    On July 1, the luxury label had its official launching at nearby 71 Gramercy Residences also at Century City, Makati, where co-owner and creative director Caryll Martinez-Benitez sat down with The Manila Times for a one-on-one interview.

    Proudly relating how Denovo aims Philippine art, she said, “It all began with our objective of coming up with a luxurious brand of diamond jewelry that can also be considered as a work of art. From that concept, we tapped Filipino artists to share their talents using our diamonds.”

    This aim to be different from other Philippine jewelry houses is to be expected of Benitez who grew up in a family of renowned jewelers who have been in the business for three decades.

    “I’d rather not disclose the brand and take away the focus from Denovo, but it was my husband and I who decided to set up our own jewelry business that is distinct from the traditional brands in the country,” she continued.

    Partnering with six renowned Filipino artists and fashion designers in the country, Benitez’ vision became a reality with what is now Denovo’s flagship collection as designed by Olivia d’Aboville, Neil Felippe, Maureen Disini, Jinggoy Buen–suceso, Cheryl Tiu and Leeroy New.

    Artists’ stories
    The artists’ dazzling works unveiled at the launch revealed an interesting mix inspired of varying themes, from religious iconography to Mother Earth, among others.

    One of the artists is Filipino-French Olivia d’Aboville who is best known for her nature-themed sculptures and furniture such as the globally famous Anemone Lamp.

    “My work in general is inspired by nature from my art installations to the lighting fixtures,” said d’Aboville whose mission is to teach people the importance of preserving the environment through her artworks.

    “So when I had to interpret diamonds through nature, I thought water is the best element to represent it as they are both transparent,” she continued.

    Her collection, called “Crystal Dew,” presents seven pieces made of intertwining golden twigs with diamonds dew droplets.

    Also a sculptor and designer is contemporary artist Leeroy New. Famous for his “out-of-this-world” art installations, New told The Manila Times that he treated the delicate diamonds just like how he would any other medium.

    Religious iconography, frequently evident in his works, came out with the Sacred Heart as his focal point.

    Meanwhile, putting a youthful vibe to classic jewelry is young Cebuano accessory designer, Neil Felippe. “My collection is inspired by Abu, Aladdin’s monkey friend,” he told The Manila Times.

    Felippe’s collection, some of which feature a monkey ring and monkey chain necklace, had a fun story to tell: “Each piece recreates a childhood game with Abu already mischievous and playful, even before he met Aladdin.”

    As for the rest of the artists, Maureen Disini designed a bridal and engagement jewelry collection; Cheryl Tiu created pieces inspired by landmarks around the world; and Jinggoy Buensuceso came up with the “Equilibrium” collection, which he hopes will serve as a reminder for people to always strike a balance in life.

    Crafting a brand
    Through the course of her venture, Benitez sought the help of globally award-winning brand architect Amor Maclang to “polish Denovo’s luster.”

    According to Maclang, “Denovo stands for stories—the promise of new chapters and new opportunities. It will be a jewelry brand that contributes to heritage.”

    Maclang also holds a high regard for Denovo’s collaborators who she believes are the best storytellers in their field. With a continuing partnership with artists, she is confident that Denovo will be able to “change the diamond discourse” in the country.

    Benitez confirmed with The Manila Times that the brand will indeed continue to explore partnerships with new Filipino artists as it continues to grow.

    “We plan to launch two or three artists collections every year. And since we will be working many, we guarantee that their creations will be limited in number for them to be recognized as art pieces,” she elaborated. “You surely won’t find them anywhere else in the world.”

    Moreover, Benitez shared that each Denovo piece is customizable. “The jewelries displayed in the store are customizable to fit the wearer’s needs. Only when requirements and specifics are finalized will the piece be handmade by our craftsmen,” she concluded.


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