An Interview with Lorenz Bäumer

Photography by Karl Lagerfeld

Photography by Karl Lagerfeld

Visitors to Lorenz Bäumer’s brand new boutique on Place Vendôme in Paris have to stop for a few seconds between two glass security doors before entering his elegant sanctuary swathed in natural tones of ecru, beige, and taupe. While waiting, they can admire a portrait of the German jeweler with his eyes closed by French artist Nathalie Boutté, a collage made of thousands of small pieces of paper printed with the names of his collections.

“It’s inspired by a Paul Gauguin saying, ‘You can only see well with your eyes closed,’ which I really love,” explains Bäumer, pointing out that the phrase actually appears on a? few strips in the corner of the composition.

The well-read Bäumer often punctuates his conversation with poetic quotes. “With poetry, you put the words together, and suddenly they add up to a lot more than they really ?are,” he says. “I try to do the same with jewelry. For example, with my Battement de Coeur ring, you can admire the beauty of the stones and the technique of the craftsman, but you can also look at it not as a piece of jewelry but for what it really means. It means ‘I love you; you make my heart beat.’”

He adds that even when his pieces appear straightforward, there’s always an extra “little meaning behind them.”

Bäumer has often talked about the three poles of inspiration for his work: poetry, architecture, and nature. One of his latest creations, the Ecume ring, in white gold and diamonds, brings together two of these, namely, architecture and the sea. “Currently, I'm a little bit more into architecture and geometry,” he says, “but because I love to surf, I always like to incorporate some aquatic elements in my design, something extremely subtle. Ecume is like a wave but treated as if it were fractal, a sequence of the wave going forward.”

In 2011 he designed the Ecume Diamants aigrette for the royal wedding of former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock to H.S.H. Prince Albert II ?of Monaco. The unusual piece, an asymmetrical creation of white gold and diamond arcs that evokes the spray of?a crashing wave, was a reference to the princess-to-be’s love of the water and to Monaco’s seaside heritage. The bride wore the headpiece to the gala dinner that capped the two-day festivities.

A trained engineer, Bäumer started his career in 1989 designing costume jewelry, but he quickly moved on to?fine jewelry. By 1995 he had secured a space in the heart of Paris’s haute joaillerie district on Place Vendôme, opening a discrete private salon in a hôtel particulier.

Besides designing for his eponymous collection, Bäumer designed Chanel’s fine jewelry between 1988 and 2007 before joining Louis Vuitton in 2009 as its artistic director for fine jewelry. He describes working for other houses as? “a marriage where you take what you have in common and you make the best of it.”

“Louis Vuitton is very different from my own line — it’s supposed to be bold but also has a lot to do with the DNA of the brand,” he explains. “We use a lot of monogram flowers, and it’s about finding inspiration through travel.”

One commonality between the two brands, though, is Bäumer’s constant embrace of cutting-edge techniques and new materials. Recently he used light ceramic coatings on some of his pieces for Louis Vuitton; for his own brand he has devised an engraving technique that allows him to use a diamond as a blank slate on which to draw anything he wants, from the name of a loved one to a Kama-sutra scene.

“For me it’s not about the value of a stone but about its meaning, especially to the wearer,” says Bäumer, who doesn’t confine himself to precious gems. “Once ?I was asked to mount a pebble found?on a beach, which clearly had a special meaning, and I mounted it as a ring with gold knots and diamonds. It was a very special piece.”

This article appears in the October 2013 issue of BLOUIN Lifestyle .