Ethereal but eminently wearable

Swiss jewellery house Adler has arrived in Bangkok for an exclusive exhibition at Nai Lert Park Heritage Home

Later today Adler Joailliers will be unveiling some of its most stunning creations at the very first exhibition it has ever held in Thailand. The firm of jewellers is here at the invitation of Patcharavipa 'Pat' Bodiratanangkura, granddaughter of Thanpuying Lursakdi Sampatisiri of Swissotel Nai Lert Park fame.

Patcharavipa ‘Pat’ Bodiratanangkura with Allen and Franklin Adler.

The venue for this exclusive, invitation-only event is the Nai Lert Park Heritage Home, a 100-year-old teak house, which used to be the private residence of Thanpuying Lursakdi and her late husband, Lert Sethaburtr. Inside, in the centre of the first room, eight free-standing, glass-fronted jewellery cases cast a luminous glow against the dark backdrop of this fine example of traditional architecture. The exhibits are mostly grouped according to which precious stones _ emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds _ were used to craft them.

Three more glass cases in a second room are less typical. One displays gems set in unconventional materials such as titanium, wood and an unfamiliar, deep black substance which was identified as carbon. A second case contains enchanting pieces that date back to the early 1900s and show art nouveau or art deco influences. The contents of the third case may appeal more to younger women since the hues of the gemstones used here come from a pastel-coloured palette; the pieces are also considerably smaller and thus more suitable for everyday wear.

The highlight of the exhibition, however, has to be Pat's three-piece collection, which she has called "Above the Clouds". The designs are her own work and the pieces were made up by artisans at Adler, the very first time that the firm has taken part in a collaborative venture of this sort.

Pat, who is Thanpuying Lursakdi's youngest granddaughter, is studying jewellery design at Central St Martin's in London. She tells us that she had been sketching the designs for months before they finally took their final shape. "To see my sketches become the pieces they are now was very emotional for me."

She says a great deal of inspiration came from pondering what life might be like above the clouds, during the time when Thailand and other parts of the world were going through unrest of all sorts. "I thought about Adam and Eve," she explains. "I imagined that nature and animals would be up there and I wondered what they would look like. Then I came across Kelly McCallum's taxidermy artworks. Some of her animals have really beautiful wings and they have diamonds in them, too, and I thought, 'these must be the animals above the clouds'."

A flamingo's feather was a major source of inspiration, as were the silhouettes leaves of various kinds make against a bright sky; these images gave her the shapes and "movement" to begin working with.

She describes the colour scheme for her three-piece set as "dreamy". A pair of earrings are embedded with diamonds and tsavorites (a green variety of garnet), the necklace and pendant use diamonds, yellow sapphires and orange sapphires, while the ring has a ruby light in the centre with black diamonds embedded in the white gold. Each piece seems totally unrelated to the others, if comparisons are based on colour alone, but all three have a similar feel in that they embody intricate feather and leaf shapes.

Adler is an international firm which has been designing haute joaillierie since 1886. Founder Jacques Adler was born in Vienna and had a boundless passion for jewels, as well as a daring spirit. He opened his first workshop in 1886 in Istanbul, then regarded as the jewellery capital of the world. Fine craftsmanship soon earned him a solid reputation and he later passed on the business to his son, Eduoard. Nowadays the firm is run by members of the third and fourth generations of the family and the centre of operations is Switzerland.

Pat got to know and work with the Adlers because the two families have maintained a relationship that dates back to her grandmother's youth; both Thanpuying Lursakdi and Pat's mother are long-standing clients of the firm. "We are known to her family as 'nice jewellers'," Allen Adler, a member of the fourth generation, observes. That may well be one of the traits that makes Adler jewellery different from that of other brands.

"We teach our sales people to be very warm to our customers because we want to have a special relationship with our customers," he explains. "This is something different from other brands who put a distance between themselves and the customer. We are much more accessible in human terms. This is a strength but sometimes it can be a weakness as well, because people who like the snob effect will say we're too nice. We found that people might not take us seriously because we're so accessible, even though our pieces are absolutely smashing."

Based on the items brought over for this private exhibition, Adler focuses on creating special pieces with very original designs but which also look very wearable. "We offer a larger range of choices than other brands do and our style is classical elegance with a twist. We're a mix of different things. We're independent, a family-run business. We want to be creative but don't want to do things that are too cheap, contemporary or expensive and we don't want to be too extreme. It makes us unique and we offer very niche products."

The fact that Adler is a family concern also gives them more room to take risks and start trends. "Unlike big brands, we can afford to take risks because it is our own business and we aren't putting other people's money at risk. We started using titanium more than five years ago, carbon more than two years ago and now we're starting to see other jewellers using carbon, too. We try to set trends rather than follow them," Adler explains.

Pat says it was this passion for inventive creativity which made her choose to work with the Swiss firm. "They're different from other brands because they're much more innovative and they actually think about the customer. Titanium is very light and extremely comfortable to wear all day.

"They really want to make something that is timeless, but also useful; that people can wear a lot. Even in Thailand, titanium isn't being used [for jewellery] yet."

Since it's their first time to visit Thailand, the Adlers are hoping to learn more about Thai tastes and understand our market better. "We're looking forward to having one-on-one discussions in order to develop direct and interpersonal relationships, Allen Adler says. "It's very much a discovery trip for us."

Pat is eager for guests to come and inspect all the fine pieces of jewellery the Adlers brought with them. "This isn't about in-your-face selling. I just really want people to come and appreciate these beautiful things that are of such smashing quality."

The Adler Jewellery exhibition is scheduled to continue at the Nai Lert Park Heritage Home until October 4. Viewing times are from noon to 7pm. Call 02-655-4252.

Some of Adler’s most stunning creations will be on display until October 4.

About the author

Writer: Parisa Pichitmarn
Position: Life Writer