Hemmerle transforms old diamonds into modern masterpieces

How does a diamond speak to you? Ask Christian Hemmerle, the fourth-generation jeweler who travels the world in search of unique antique diamonds, stones of character and emotion that he says speak to him.

“Old gems have a story to tell,” says Hemmerle. “They speak to you through their energy; we feel their energy.

Hemmerle, known internationally for its bold and avant-garde creations, favors vintage diamonds for their resolutely contemporary jewelry designs.

Hemmerle 10 carat yellow-brown fancy diamonds set in a bronze and white gold ring.

A century ago, these diamonds were cut by master craftsmen whose goal was to reveal the character and beauty of a rough stone, rather than simply maximizing its carat weight, explains Yasmine Hemmerle, the wife of Christian. The results were diamonds that radiated a softer glow, compared to the often precision-cut modern diamonds of today.

Diamonds and precious stones are the starting point for Hemmerle’s unique jewelry creations.

Hemmerle combines antique diamonds, which are most often left untouched and imperfect, with unconventional materials, such as iron, bronze and aluminum, in unique designs. This eye-catching juxtaposition of softly radiant old diamonds and striking industrial iron or sleek copper has become the house’s distinctive signature.

hemmerle diamond jewelry earrings
Hemmerle earrings with more than 370 diamonds in reverse setting with a total of 39 carats set in silver and white gold.

A Hemmerle design is instantly recognizable for its minimalist, sculptural form, innovative materials and exceptional craftsmanship. There’s also often a sense of playfulness in the pieces, like the floral designs that debuted in their recent Infused Jewels collection, which features metal settings that have been tinted to enhance the color of the gemstones. They also regularly use ancient Egyptian artifacts and 18e century cameos that infuse layers of culture, craftsmanship and storytelling into a single piece of jewelry.

“Perfection is in imperfection,” says Yasmin of Hemmerle’s favorite diamonds.

When Yasmin joined the family business, she quickly learned to discover the diamonds that speak to you. “I only knew about modern diamonds and the 4 C’s,” she says. “The more I saw these old stones, the more I recognized that they had a soul, something unique in them.”

Once the Hemmerles find that special diamond, it takes patience to find the best place for it, says Christian. Such was the case with a 12-carat cushion-shaped diamond that was once set in a European crown. He hid this stone for 16 years, until he recently decided on the perfect setting for it. It was a beautiful twisted diamond, and he set it in an iron ring with the diamond resting between two fingers. “It was a cool design; the twisted stone fits perfectly between the fingers. It sold out immediately.

hemmerle diamond jewelry ring
Hemmerle 6 carat diamond ring in white gold.

Hemmerle’s bold style began with Christian’s father, Stefan, experimenting with new ideas and materials.

Today, Hemmerle’s modernist iron and diamond rings are coveted by international collectors who favor a more understated yet distinctive aesthetic. This style originated in the 1990s when Stefan Hemmerle set a diamond in an iron ring for a client who preferred the early 19e Berlin iron jewelry from the last century on platinum and diamonds. It was the beginning of a new era.

“Stefan was ahead of his time,” says Yasmin. “He was always minimalist in what he did and he was never afraid of what people might say.”

Founded in 1893 by Stefan’s grandfather, the family has retained that personal touch. Each piece is designed by the family and made by master craftsmen in their workshop in central Munich.

This first iron ring gave the Hemmerles the freedom and courage to experiment with precious stones associated with innovative materials, such as brass, aluminum or even pebbles. “We don’t set ourselves any limits,” explains Christian. “It’s not about what’s valuable or not, we’re just finding out which is the best house for the diamond.”

hemmerle diamond jewelry earrings
Hemmerle earrings, two diamonds totaling 12 carats set in silver and white gold.

The Hemmerles are constantly exploring different techniques and materials to create new pieces that fit the way women live today. “We live very fast lives and people want to wear and enjoy their jewelry every day,” says Yasmin. To this end, Hemmerles designer rings with low set stones in minimalist settings and diamonds are set upside down in reverse pavé tips.

“Jewelry should never dominate a woman,” says Yasmin. Of course, that should speak to him.

Sarah C. Figueiredo