March 24 2010
Lucia van der Post
Anybody who ever goes to Bali gets to hear about John Hardy. He’s a Canadian who came to Bali in 1975 and, like many a visitor before him, fell in love with the island. Unlike most visitors, though, he had an idea: to harness traditional Balinese jewellery-making techniques and develop a range that was sophisticated enough to appeal to an international audience but which was also deeply rooted in its Balinese heritage. So he moved back to Bali and began to study Balinese jewellery-making techniques with a master artisan, and formed his own company in 1989.
His idea succeeded triumphantly, and a visit to his studio deep among the rice fields became an essential part of the Bali holiday experience, while John Hardy jewellery and silverware (gorgeous spoons, bowls, jugs, decanters, trays) became the essential Balinese trophy to take home.
But not everyone gets to Bali, and although his wares have been found in lots of big international stores, until recently there has been no British outlet for his ranges. Now, however, Harrods has launched a special John Hardy corner in its designer jewellery room.
These days Hardy no longer runs the company – he sold out a few years ago to one of his designers, Guy Bedarida, and the firm’s former president (now its CEO), Damien Dernoncourt – but it still retains his ethos and his values and its Balinese roots, which are an essential part of its DNA.
Most of the collection at Harrods is in silver but it also sometimes uses gold, diamonds and other gemstones. What makes the pieces different is that they are mostly made by hand and incorporate traditional Balinese techniques, which means woven chains, either delicately spun or quite chunky, as well as gold or silver pieces with cut-outs featuring abstract or figurative designs, often drawing on Balinese symbols and images.
For instance, there is the famous Bamboo collection (the company undertakes to plant bamboo seedlings every time they sell a Bamboo piece), of which the Bamboo slim bangle is probably the best known (£369 in silver. Third picture: Bamboo coil bracelet, £369). The Kali collection is inspired by the pebbles in Balinese streams and consists of smooth pebble-shaped pieces of silver or gold. 18ct gold bangles (first picture) are £3,349, while gold rings are £1,209. Look to John Hardy for glamorous chunky cuffs (its Naga cuff in gold and silver, second picture, is £969) and for an aesthetic that is quite unlike much else that is on the market.