On a visit to Chapada Diamantina National Park in Brazil a year ago, Fernando Jorge explored a few dried riverbeds where diamonds had been discovered during the 18th and 19th centuries. Anything sparkly was removed a long time ago, but the designer saw natural beauty in some ordinary brown pebbles — and was inspired to create his new 16-piece High series, an exploration of materials, textures and movement.
For a bold cuff and some rings and earrings, he mixed thumb-size brown pebbles from Brazilian riverbeds with brown diamonds. (Mr. Jorge couldn’t take rocks from Chapada Diamantina because it is a protected park.) And for a counterpoint set, he carved pieces of marble into similar shapes, then set them with white diamonds.
The jewelry was unveiled at Mr. Jorge’s solo exhibition in November, his first held at Sotheby’s in New York.
“Fernando’s high jewelry speaks to the contemporary art crowd, who see it as serious art,” said Frank Everett, Sotheby’s vice chairman of jewelry who organized the show. “This collection is a fascinating study in contrast, color and form.”
Mr. Jorge is a Brazilian who began his career working for jewelry designers in his home country before moving to London, where he earned a degree in jewelry design at Central St. Martins. He has sourced stones and produced most of his jewelry in São Paulo since he established his business in 2010.
For this series, the designer said he looked deeper into the concept of what beauty is. “Showing the pebbles with diamonds, it brought out what’s beautiful about the pebble: the texture, color and softness,” he said during an interview at the Sotheby’s exhibition.
The collection’s highlight is a 10-carat emerald discovered in Brazil’s Minas Gerais, a state northwest of Rio de Janeiro known for its colored gemstones.
While most jewelers set high-quality emeralds in classic gold settings, Mr. Jorge preferred a more contemporary style. He commissioned a São Paulo lapidarist, whose family has carved Mr. Jorge’s jewelry for a decade, to create a ring of malachite for the emerald. “The malachite has these natural geological patterns that appear like paint strokes,” Mr. Jorge said, “and it created a beautiful tonal story with the emerald.”
He did the same with carved yellow amber rings and earrings, setting them with yellow diamonds.
Mr. Everett noted that the emerald wasn’t just perched on top of the malachite. “He created a rounded, soft collar around the gemstone,” he said. “He’s a master of detail, and that’s what we loved working with him.” The exhibition is scheduled to be shown early next year at Sotheby’s galleries in London; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Zurich.
Mr. Jorge also created new pieces in his signature Fluid collection for the exhibition, including a large-scale choker and earrings with draping layers of flexible snake chains accented with diamonds. (Prices start at $12,000 for a pair of earrings.)
“This goes back to my early designs, but it is bigger and a little messy,” he said. “It reminds me of waterfall.”