Minimalism started as a way to describe artwork that had been laid bare, stripped of the unessential. Then, when applied to interiors, minimalism became linked to Scandinavian design, emphasizing simplicity within light, bright spaces.
The aesthetic came naturally to Annette Welander, born in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, a seaside retreat also known as the birthplace of Volvo cars and for its devotion to sustainable living.
All of these influences played a role in Welander’s life at an early age. She studied art history and visual studies at the University of Gothenburg, then switched to the Institute for Higher Marketing’s business school. From there, she went on to Berghs School of Communication in Stockholm, graduating to work in communications, branding, and design.
All along the way, Welander says she continued “to indulge my interests in painting, sculpture, and photography.” It was at this time she met a jeweler who had worked at Canada’s Maison Birks. This is when Welander says inspiration struck.
Using her own Scandinavian heritage, she could design fine jewelry that not only established her own brand but could also help tell the story of Sweden, its unique red gold, and the nation’s efforts to bring sustainable thinking into every aspect of its collective work.
She launched her own design house in 2018 that highlights how design, culture, and artistic principles can combine in every one of her creations. The house’s signature is a hidden diamond within each piece of jewelry.
“It’s about creating meaning and conveying emotions to make a connection,” Welander says.
Think of it like the architectural principle of form follows function, she says.
“The influences for our jewelry come from modern architecture that is pleasing in its design but also hold purpose in terms of functionality and the fundamentals are clean and simple,” Welander says. “It’s about fulfilling both practical and expressive requirements.”
That is especially true of the materials she chooses to work with as a jeweler. For example, the brand’s signature is 18k Swedish red gold. This rare precious metal is available only in Sweden, and Welander says she believes she is the first and only Swedish brand marketing this rare gold worldwide.
Her work also proves its Swedish provenance through a series of unique brand hallmarks on all the designs, including the uniquely Swedish control mark: the small national coat of arms in a trefoil-shape shield often referred to as the “cat’s paw.” The mark has been a Swedish tradition since 1754 and guarantees the authenticity of the gold object.
In addition, each piece has the sponsor mark that is unique for the brand (the maker’s mark) as well as the town mark for Stockholm, the crowned head of the patron saint St. Erik, and the fineness mark for 18k gold that guarantees the purity of the metal.
“In this way, we ensure our customers have complete transparency on both the rarity and the Swedish provenance of the designs,” Welander says.
The nation also influences the impact she wants to have now and in the future as a sustainable jeweler.
“Sweden is one of the leading countries in the world for sustainable practices. Our social and environmental impact, and the responsibilities that come with it, is something we seriously monitor,” Welander says. “We believe that one of our main responsibilities is to create pieces that are of high quality and continue to be desirable and worn for a long time.”
That kind of rarity is something Welander says also influences her next moves as a designer. This spring, she is launching her first collection featuring rare pink diamonds from the Argyle mine.
“We are constantly evolving the brand and are trying to push the creative boundaries,” she says.
Top: Swedish jeweler Annette Welander says her culture and its focus on minimalist design and sustainability are among her top influences, creating a “form meets function” approach to her jewelry (all photos courtesy of Annette Welander).@jckmagazine
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