Mother Nature has given Brazil huge reserves of gemstones and gold. Although it doesn’t produce ruby, sapphire, or tanzanite, name almost any other gemstone, and Brazil has it in spades. The country is home to some of the world’s finest aquamarine, amethyst, alexandrite, chrysoberyl and cat’s-eye chrysoberyl, citrine, emerald, fluorite, garnet, kunzite, iolite, morganite, tourmaline (including, of course, Paraíba), and topaz (including imperial topaz, which is found only in Brazil). And don’t forget that Brazil also produces diamonds.
For centuries, Brazil has exported mainly rough and cut stones, not jewelry. But over the past few years, Brazilian designers and manufacturers have collectively focused on creating “the Brazilian style,” and the August 2002 Feninjer Show in São Paulo showed off that style with rousing Latin passion.
Defining Brazil. But what exactly is Brazilian style? It’s informed partly by the country’s natural beauty, partly by its vibrant culture—think Carnivale—and partly by its ethnically diverse population. Feninjer put Brazil’s national treasury of gemstones on display, in jewelry designs that depicted Brazilian life, nature, and culture. The styles were categorized by theme: “Theatrical,” using multiple gems, multiple colors, and most importantly, movement; “Flower Power,” described as “tutti-fruity”; and “Romantic,” a marriage of jewel and body.
IBGM, the Brazilian Gems and Precious Metals Institute, helped promote the main event and hosted the IBGM Design Awards. The design theme, “The Atlantic Rainforest,” brought out jeweled versions of butterflies, waterfalls, bromeliads, and ferns. There were pieces set with every Brazilian gem imaginable, sometimes, it seemed, all in the same piece. Some designers even combined indigenous woods and nuts with gems and gold—just the kind of off-the-wall inspiration that helps define “Brazilian style.”