MADRID -- Solid gold wrapped around your finger with chunks like from the California gold rush clustered on top. Aluminum warped around your wrist in perfect geometric folds. Aluminum again, laying seemingly gently, like a green ribbon resting floating over your shoulders. This is the new face of luxury jewelry. Bold colors. Simple, yet unique designs. It's all about making a statement. Instead of hanging that priceless work of art in your salón, why not wear it?
Following the inspirations of Picasso and Braque, Gris, Dalí, and Miró, Madrid-based Artency blurs the lines between art and accessories, pop culture and luxury to create the first online-only art jewelry retailer.
Only public for about two months now, Artency stands on the partnership of art deco jeweler Luis Feliú de la Peña and Silvio Dulinsky, who identifies himself simply as "a business guy who decided to start my own business, and the Internet is something that I like very much." The pair decided to innovate in the greater luxury field, since, "all the luxury sector is pretty much offline," Dulinsky says.
The idea started as peddling jewelry designed by contemporary artists and architects. "After a few months, we had this nice line-up of artists who love jewelry and design," Dulinksy says. "We started only with artists, and we developed the jewelry" with them. This process takes about four or five months, especially for artists using these materials or working with jewelry for the first time.
"When we started investigating this area, we found some excellent jewelers who made exceptional art -- one-of-a-kind jewelry," including Karl Fritsch, whose Artency pieces run from two to more than four thousand euros. This high price comes with the facts that "he works only with pure gold," and that he is "a reference in art jewelry."
Artency's first architect is the unique Teresa Sapey, an Italian architect and Spanish resident, best known in Spain for designing part of the Hotel Puerta América, a vibrantly-colored building that stands out on Madrid's Avenida de América. She has designed specialty rings for Artency that mix harshness with beauty, with her silver car tires. "They really have something special. They really look like tires when you put them on your hands, and they are really comfortable," Dulinksy says.
He says the art jewelry sector is represented by about 150 galleries in the world, but Artency is the only online luxury store in the market. "You'll find others, but they do not have this type of high-quality products [sic]," he says. "I cannot say I'm the first one to offer art jewelry online. We are unique in that we are exclusively online and we are bringing jewelers from around the globe," he says.
Dulinksy describes other online art and jewelry dealers as merely appendices to their much more focused offline businesses. However, for Artency, "This is our core business," he says. "Our vision is to be the reference in art jewelry online."
Not just in style, but in business, the jewelry imitates art. "The art sector used to be completely offline, [and now] there are several start-ups offering artwork over the Internet, and that's what we are trying to do with art jewelry."
"The model we started with [was] we invited artists to design jewelry. It's a process that takes four or five months," Dulinksy says. They decided to start an online business because it takes a lower level of investment, however, they wanted it to be easily scalable. They found that, since the design and production time takes so long, "then this is a business difficult to escalate."
This is why the next phase, being released later this month, is to offer pieces from jewelers that are known for their art jewelry, with both one-of-a kinds and limited editions. Since the artists are more accustomed to their media, the time dedicated to the design and production process should decrease significantly. It also brings well-recognized names from the industry to their website -- although Dulinsky was not willing to reveal whom just yet. There are six designers now, with products from five more to be launched later this month, just in time for jewelry's main holiday: Valentine's Day.
With a line-up of jewelers from around the world, "I'm really trying to reach an international market," says Dulinksky. Most of their customers come from the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, which is unusual for a Spain-based company. As SmartPlanet has already touched on, while the Spanish luxury industry continues to succeed despite the no-end-in-sight crisis, that's mainly due to exporting to and tourism from Asia and Russia.
"We are not traditional luxury," Dulinsky says. " Most people in Russia and China, they are looking for traditional brands. Dolce and Gabbana and Gucci," or Spanish brands like Loewe. "We are selling to a different market -- those that don't care about the brand so much as the history of the product."