TOKYO — Creating things that last a lifetime or longer has been on the mind of the jewelry designer Yuta Ishihara for years.
“When I was in my late teens, I started to think about the fact that I wanted things to remain for a longer period of time,”He said. “I decided that if I created something, I wanted it to last.”
Yutai, his latest project, is a fine jewelry brand. These one-of-a kind pieces are made from long-lasting precious metals (he only uses yellow or white gold and Platinum) and some styles give new life vintage settings made in Japan, where he was born.
Mr. Ishihara, 35 years old, was born and raised Yamanashi in Japan, which is the most prolific region for producing jewelry. His family grows flowers and he used to dig around the flower nursery as a child to find ceramic pieces from the prehistoric Jomon Period (14,000 B.C.). 300 B.C. ) Obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic rock, both are common discoveries in this area.
“That really stuck with me because those are from thousands of years ago,”He said. “Those things last, and we know about them now because they were able to last as long as they have, because of the material.”
Like many of his classmates Mr. Ishihara chose to leave the prefecture to pursue higher education. “Back then, I discussed with my family, and we decided there would be more opportunities in Tokyo,”He said. “If I had gone to school in Yamanashi, I would have stayed there, and I don’t think things would be where they are now.”
He graduated in 2008 from the three-year Hiko Mizuno College of Jewelry, Tokyo. In 2010, he founded his first brand. Shihara. The brand is available at retail outlets worldwide and online.
Chika Wakatsuki (curator of the Yamanashi Jewelry Museum) wrote in an email that “the minimalist and solid look of his jewelry makes the wearer stand out. It looks beautiful, clean, and stoic from any angle, and I feel that it is a design that excels at connecting people and space.”
While he was designing Shihara pieces, Mr. Ishihara said, he was often thinking about a very different kind of collection — and then the pandemic gave him an opportunity to actually develop one. “With Shihara, we work with materials that can be replicated so we can produce pieces on demand,”He said. “But with Yutai, what you see is what you get.”
“The material comes first, and the design after,” Mr. Ishihara said. And “some things I only have one piece of, so some materials are unique.”He discovered some golden pearls in the Philippine Sea, but only enough to make three necklaces (each $14,200). “I like this color as it’s really close to the color of gold,”He said.
Yutai will be introduced in the United States by Bergdorf Goodman in New York. The Japanese introduction will take place in February at Dover Street Market, Tokyo.
Yumi Shin, chief retailer for Bergdorf Goodman, stated in an email that the store had been closed. “always admired the minimalist, thoughtful and multifaceted designs of Yuta Ishihara’s jewelry brand Shihara.
“With his fine jewelry brand Yutai,”She continued, “he continues to explore and push the fine balance of functionality and beauty using semiprecious and precious stones, delicately splicing and fusing stones together to give each piece its unique beauty and depth.”
Mr. Ishihara designs Yutai items, some with unusual effects. They are made by Yamanashi- and Tokyo-based artisans.
Ms. Shin also noted that Yutai rings or pendants that combine gemstones ($2,100-3,700) are a few examples. “You can see from the back that there are two different stones. These kinds of cuts are created so light reflects on it,”Mr. Ishihara stated, showing a ring that matched blue topaz and lemon quartz. “The yellow reflects on the blue and meld together, to become more or less one color, one stone.”
The line also includes Sectional Necklaces, which are used to splice gems like jade or rubies into single-strand pearl necklaces.
“I like to mix different elements and it’s also about changing the way the conventional pearl necklace can look by adding different materials,”He said. The clasp is hidden within the strand and mirrors the shape the pearls. It has a keyhole-shaped mechanism to fasten it. Prices start at $4900 for the blue chalcedony version while prices go up to $10300 if you choose a jade one.
Sectional necklaces were created by Mr. Ishihara when he first made them in 2012. Rihanna also bought one in Tokyo at Dover Street Market. They will no longer be sold by him as part his new line.
Yutai also features Revive rings. These show cocktail ring settings made in 1980s Yamanashi by craftsmen. “bubble economy”Japan’s heyday was when many people wore flashy jewelry. “I bought the settings at a wholesale market in Yamanashi,” Mr. Ishihara said. “They were sold either ‘as is’ or sometimes sold without the gem, without honoring the craftsmanship that went into them.”
Originally, the rings’ central gems were surrounded by baguette-cut diamonds in a ballerina setting (so-called because the stiff circle of small stones resembles a ballerina’s tutu). Most of them were hand-crafted. “most likely in Yamanashi, even though there’s no way to track it,”He said. “That job doesn’t exist anymore because of the development of CAD (computer-assisted design), and there is no demand on the market any more.”
Mr. Ishihara stated that he takes the rings apart and reconstructs them “to make them more modern,”Replace the narrow original bands by the wider, more popular ones. In certain cases, the central gem was missing so he used the empty setting as the decorative element for a new band.
“I prefer the setting on the outside more than the gemstone itself,”He said, “that’s where we can appreciate the craftsmanship the most as well. I really want to highlight that.”
The designerHe said that he hoped that the pieces of his Yutai collection would achieve his goal: that they last.
“Things in the world generally come and go, they rarely last,”He said. “But for jewelry, the material and the craftsmanship that went into it remains valuable, even if we don’t know the name of the person who made it.”