Israeli Jewelry as a Game of Chess

Parisian inspiration and Israeli crafstmanship combine in Hadar Nornberg’s first jewelry collection.

Amit Israeli

Hadar Michaela Nornberg, 29, says she has found her true vocation – designing high-fashion, high-end jewelry. Nornberg was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, and raised in Israel. After finishing her military service, she studied fashion design in Paris. More than a decade ago, when fashion designer Richard Evans was not as well known as he is today, Nornberg admired his work and wanted to study with him. As part of her studies, she worked behind the scenes at Paris Fashion Week, helping dress Evans’ models. Working and studying at his fashion house for two years, she forged close links with the managers of his brand.

When she finished her studies, the Rick Evans house made Nornberg an offer she couldn’t turn down – to set up a showroom and establish his professional presence in New York, working with local clients. She moved to New York and started working there. But when she realized she was ready to begin designing her own work, she knew the best place for her was Paris.

While still a student, Nornberg began designing products using metals, with which she loved to work. She therefore decided to design jewelry, and before settling in Paris, found a school in Florence where she could learn to work in silver and gold, using traditional and modern methods. There she studied in a small group, coming to realize that what she really wanted was to design stylish, high-end jewelery, using gold and platinum. Upon completing her studies, she returned to Paris, where she opened her own atelier and started designing her own creations.

Nornberg, who is currently displaying her first collection in Israel, divides her time between Paris and Tel Aviv. Her family and friends live here, but she finds it hard to detach herself from Paris, an art and fashion center that she says gives her unending inspiration. She calls Israel home, but is torn between the two worlds.

Her collection is more focused than is usually the case with first exhibitions by young designers. Her works feature sharp, angular geometric patterns with a shiny or matte finish. The centerpiece of her display is a collection of rings made with 18-karat white or yellow gold, studded with high-quality polished diamonds. One ring is inlaid with half-karat diamonds.

Nornberg insists on producing her designs, which require meticulous and detailed hand work, in Israel. Israeli model Noam Frost presents the collection, photographed by Amit Israeli, an Israeli photographer who lives in Paris.

The core of the exhibit is built around Nornberg’s concept of presenting a chessboard in which the chess pieces are rings, each one marked differently to distinguish between them. Thus, the king is a square embedded with a straight row of diamonds. Other pieces are similarly marked; they can be worn on one finger in the usual way, or spread between two fingers.

There is also a line of square rings, embedded with diamonds that are placed in a less conventional way, such as at the side of the ring or in an uneven line. The collection also includes a single square bracelet of white gold, studded with black onyx and diamonds. Alongside it are small x-shaped earrings, all different. They too are inlaid with black onyx and diamonds.

It is pleasing to see a young designer’s first collection showing such a clear and personal imprint, which is likely to accompany Nornberg in the years to come, as her style crystallizes further. Hopefully, she will fashion new designs, using a different approach. This collection could be the base from which she grows, perhaps producing necklaces, more bracelets and earrings. The brand is already there.

Prices start at $2,800. Items can be obtained from the designer at www.HadarNornberg.com

Amit Israeli