Hanna Bernhard Aztec Style Necklace
In today's How do I...? post, I am interviewing the Parisian Nathalie Hanna Berhard all about Hanna Bernhard Jewellery and how the brand was born, how the jewellery is created and who wears it... Read on....
Who is Hanna Bernhard?
HB. It is me, my name is Nathalie Hanna Bernhard, Hanna is my middle and Hebraic name, which I chose to name our brand.
How did you start creating jewellery?
HB. I really started after purchasing a big pineapple rhinestone pin in a flea market about 20 years ago (we have a passion for antiques -I sell vintage jewellery and antiques too beside making our pieces-). The dealer asked me whether I would be interested in getting more of such pieces, and he introduced me to the man who was making them. This person was in fact at the head of a Parisian studio working for all the big names -Dior, Nina Ricci, etc-.
So I started to meet him as often as I could, I love to learn any technique in which I can express my creativity; then I met Fernand my husband, who had learned dental prosthesis and how to see things and sculpt them in 3D. Pierre taught Fernand the basis of how to solder the jewellery. Pierre died not so long after and we never stopped to create jewellery since then - well, at the beginning we burnt more than one piece !:)
I don't do the soldering, I design, sculpt, choose colours and set stones, Fernand can do all of those things as well. 'Hanna Bernhard' is a team, I do everything with my husband Fernand. Most of our pieces are based on a sculpture and he is a very good sculptor, especially for animals. I remember one day, coming back from the zoo, he made a giraffe head; it was amazing, he is really gifted. Some customers have seen it in our studio and told us we should make it in bronze for decoration. Another field that we should explore…..
Nature and particularly animals inspire us both. My father was a biology teacher; Fernand grew up in Corsica, spending most of his time in the nature and especially under the water :) That is one of the reason why we make so many sea animals !
Hanh Merriman wearing her Hanna Bernhard Lucky Cat Necklace in NYC during Fashion Week last July
HB. I could create anything actually, but we only have one life and time is flying so fast ! We often talk about making other things, objects, bathing suits, bedding accesories etc etc ! I have always loved jewellery -was already creating rings in primary school :)-, I think that meeting this person has been the opportunity for our lives to take this particular road..
Bakelite - why bakelite?
HB. This is an old story and you are the first to ask this question. As I was telling you earlier, I have a passion for antiques. I love jewellery particularly and especially plastics.
Years ago I was selling on ebay and there was a big fight because some dealers were using the term 'french-bakelite' for a particular material, which looks like bakelite, but doesn't pass some tests used by bakelite collectors to identify that material. So some bakelite collectors started to complain to ebay about this expression and eventually it became forbidden to use it. At that time I had decided to create an internet site, and I guess I was mad at ebay not to be able to be free to say what I wanted to, so as I am French and loves plastics and bakelite, I have used that name for our site. I have to change it to just 'Hanna Bernhard jewellery' probably, but now many people know about it, it is listed in collectors books etc, so I am not sure. And this is part of our 'history'.
The most elaborate jewel you have created so far?
HB. One of them is a Chinese dragon necklace, ordered by a Dallas customer who has Asian origins. It was a challenge as it was the first time we had to make such a piece.
Iris Apfel and friend Nancy Lowe Turner from store 'Elements of style' in Atlanta. Iris is wearing the Hanna Bernhard Toucan Pin.
The most popular Hanna Bernhard jewel so far?
HB. Our animals are popular, we are not many people to make big animal jewellery. Among them the snake necklace is a best seller.
Who is the typical person owning Hanna Bernhard jewelry?
This is also the first time someone asks this question…..Lot of our customers are jewellery collectors, women but also many men. Men also wear our pieces :).We often create jewellery displays for our pieces so customers can use them as decorative objects.
Beside that, some of our customers just like fashion and wear our pieces. When I read your question I thought it was funny because I had already noticed that those ladies look like each other: strong character, in fashion but also 'feeling free' and confident in themselves.
Hanna Bernhard Snake Necklaces
Is there any new material you are using lately?
HB. No new material for the base, which is always copper that we solder and then it is gilt, silvered or bronzed.
For the ornaments it can vary as we also use vintage elements that we find when we are 'antique hunting'.
We are actually in the process of creating some 'mass produced' pieces, so we may have some pieces made in sterling silver for a more luxurious range.
If you had to choose between Czech glass beads, cloisonne beads or Swarovski crystals, which would you prefer?
HB. Choosing is a thing I hate to do in my life : I like everything you mentioned!
When was the brand Hanna Bernhard born?
HB. About 20 years ago
Some famous personalities who have worn Hanna Bernard jewels?
HB. Dannii Minogue, Anna Plunkett -Australian designer of 'Romance was born, Barbara Berger -jewellery collector who makes exhibits of her collections worldwide, next one is scheduled in NY next summer, Iris Apfel -US fashion icon, Heidi Klum -who ordered a python snake necklace a few months ago, and now Raquel Zimmermann Brazilian top model in Vogue….. does that count ?