Silvia Furmanovich designs with intention. Every earring, ring, bracelet and clutch tells the story of a place, a time or an enduring cultural tradition. March 26-28, the designer stops by Marissa Collections—the Third Street South boutique that’s carried her work for three years—to share her most recent lines, Obi and Botanical. Like her entire body of work, the pieces honor history and heritage.
Furmanovich, who hails from a long line of Italian goldsmiths, grew up watching her father, the late Salvador Longobardi, make jewelry in his home atelier in Brazil. He’d tell her stories of her great-grandfather designing sacred adornments for the Vatican. Though she felt predestined to make fine jewelry, she didn’t pick up the trade until the late ’90s, after her father passed. “I was feeling a profound need to recapture my family’s line of work,” she says.
Pedigree surely helps in Furmanovich’s success. But the key to her fandom (she counts Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, mother to the Emir of Qatar and Furmanovich’s personal style hero, as devotees) lies in her artful knack for combining precious stones and metals with textiles, antiques and raw materials, like bamboo and flower petals.
The designer travels the world in search of ideas, collaborators and materials, and she immerses herself wholeheartedly. On one trip to South Korea, she learned to make prayer-bead necklaces at a monastery in the mountains, and those remain some of her favorite personal items. Other collections reflect her adventures with names like Egypt, Italy and India. Her native country also shows through motifs that recall the rainforest.
Around the same time the designer debuted handbags in 2016, she also launched the Marquetry collection with Brazilian artisans skilled at the craft. Commonly used in art and furniture-making, marquetry consists of inlay work, in which contrasting pieces of wood are arranged like a puzzle. In Furmanovich’s work, this element shows up in pieces like the Marquetry Bird and Floral clutch from the Obi collection. All of Furmanovich’s clutches are made with 18-karat gold hardware and typically include diamonds, gemstones, detailed paintings and woodwork.
The inspiration for Obi, her latest line, came from a New York antique shop, where the designer found a box of aristocratic fabric samples from Kyoto and a swatch book with 141 pieces of cloth for traditional obi sashes, dating to the Meiji period, when Japan started to rise as a global power. The craftsmanship dazzled her: “Each swatch was a little universe in itself, complete with its own symbolism.” Working with Amazonian woodworkers and miniature-art painters from India, she produced a line with earrings that resemble Japanese fans, clutches with hand-painted cherry blossom motifs, butterfly wing earrings that ode to the island’s reverence for the winged creatures, and clutches accented with silk-screening.
Another collection, Botanical, draws from similar earthy qualities and embodies the colorful flora of the Amazon with ebony rose rings and pink spotted orchid earrings. Precious and semi-precious stones provide the glitz for Furmanovich’s trademark grounded glamour. The connective tissue relies on craftsmanship—the ultimate sign of opulence. “Handcrafted work takes time to create. In our world, time is a luxury,” she says. “Honing a skill throughout a lifetime is one of the most precious things you can do.”