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John Hardy

John Hardy (???? – ) It is not unusual for jewelry designers to direct their creative spirits into other areas about which they feel passionate. However, the Canadian designer and artist John Hardy brought his enthusiasms to a more rarified level.

Despite selling his company in 2007 to then John Hardy president Damien Dernoncourt and Head Designer and Creative Director, Guy Bedarida (who, in July 2014, subsequently sold it to Catterton Partners, a leading private equity firm), the firm has maintained its allegiance to Hardy’s ideals and interests.

The John Hardy Company was founded in 1975 and is known for its Asian inspired designs and traditional handmade jewelry techniques. After graduating from the Ontario College of Art & Design, John set off to travel the world and settled in Bali where he’d been introduced to its culture of art and handicraft.

He worked with local artisans and later his wife Cynthia, designing his versions of luxury modern jewelry using multiple leathers, base metals of sterling silver, 18K and 22K gold, and often rhodium embedded with gemstones of amethyst, garnet, citrine, topaz, sapphire, turquoise, colorful ceramic polymers (synthetic substances), as well as diamonds, and cultured fresh water pearls.

John Hardy jewelry is hand-made using traditional techniques inspired by Balinese life, is comfortable to wear, and is said to improve with age. Jewelry designed and produced for men includes watches, rings, necklaces, bracelets, cufflinks, and Tuxedo Sets. For women, the company creates watches, rings, necklaces, charm bracelets, earrings and pendants. Designs for children are also produced.

While Hardy started a small jewelry business, it grew into an international company. In 2007, John ended direct work with the company to dedicate his time to advocating for and building a more sustainable world through education and design.

The first major project, conceived by Hardy and his wife, created the Bali Green School to deliver a curriculum based on the Three Frame Day by Alan Wagstaff. The school provides an internationally recognized academic education that prepares students to be competitive and successful in the wider world. What is unique about the school is found in its integration of traditional subjects, creative arts, and green studies wrapped in rich layers of experiential, environmental, and entrepreneurial learning.

The John Hardy compound was built in Mumbal, Bali in 1996 and is the company’s production center for jewelry creation. It also serves as a living and gathering space that includes an organic farm and low impact buildings.

When Hardy started his company, he employed Indonesian craftsmen to create his designs by hand. The workshop and design center is located some distance from the compound in the rice-farming hills of central Bali. Often a single artisan worked on a piece from start finish.

Because the jewelry is hand-made, it is distinguished not only by its high quality but also by its designs with collections inspired by diverse sources including the tribal art of Borneo and from ancient Asian jewelry techniques (Dot, Chain, and Palu). The inner surfaces of the John Hardy jewelry have a complex inner grillwork like a secret story that is worn next to the skin.

When Guy Bedarida, a senior designer of Haute Joaillerie on the Place Vendôme in Paris joined the company in 1999 as Head Designer, he expanded Hardy’s design concepts to include the use of classical European jewelry techniques and new motifs inspired by nature and ancient East Asian art styles and themes.

According to the company’s current website, “John Hardy is dedicated to the creation of ultimate beauty through artisan hand-crafted jewelry. Our master artisans honor original craft through the perfection of modern design, creating timeless one-of-a-kind pieces that are brilliantly alive.”

The site goes on to state, “Every day more than 700 designers and artisans gather for an organic lunch at our Ubud workshop. The lunch is made with produce grown on the property as well as from local farms. Through our Jobs for Life Program we provide vocational training, financial support, and job opportunities to disadvantaged Balinese orphans.

‘[Furthermore], we strive to preserve the culture of master artisanship in Bali for future generations by using and developing traditional craftsmanship in the creation of our jewelry, and mentoring and developing young artisans through our apprenticeship program.”

Every John Hardy piece is artisan-crafted in an eight-step process that uses jewelry techniques descended from jewelers of Bali’s ancient royal courts. Each sculpted work draws on traditional techniques from the contouring of precious metal to the patterning of alluring stones. The jewelry is brought to life by master artisans and result in pieces that are powerful, dramatic and inspiring.

The company opened its first flagship store in Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta in 2010. In 2011, it opened its first store at The Landmark, Hong Kong. In 2014, two more stores were opened in Bali, Indonesia.

Wikipedia states that in the summer of 2016, John Hardy will open its first U.S. boutique in New York City in the borough of Manhattan. The location at 11 Prince Street, between Greene and Wooster streets in the SoHo neighborhood will take up an entire building over three floors.

John Hardy jewelry can be extravagant and priced at the luxuriously high end of fine jewelry (from hundreds to many thousand dollars). The jewelry is sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Ave. stores and on the John Hardy internet site.

John Hardy lines include the Legends Collection inspired by Balinese mythology of creatures that brought prosperity and success to the people of the region. There is also the Bamboo Collection, which interpolates the shape of one of the region’s natural resources (the Hardy Company also plants seeds for every Bamboo piece purchased) and the Cinta Collection, which is “love” in the Indonesian language. Each piece tells tell a story that offers much more than what is seen.

“Greener Every Day” is the company’s slogan summarizing and describing its efforts to be a “green” company. Its ultimate goal is to become carbon neutral.

In 2006, John Hardy launched its “Sustainable Advertising” program to offset the carbon emissions from its print advertising, business travel, and electricity consumption. It does this by planting bamboo on Bali and Nusa Penida, a small island off the coast of Bali.

Through its “Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo” program, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of its Bamboo collection pieces are used to fund the company’s continuous bamboo plantings.

The John Hardy Workshop was built to uphold the integrity of the existing environment, Its “Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo” program ensures the sowing of bamboo seedlings through every purchase from the Bamboo Collection. In addition, the company guarantees that it utilizes 100% certified reclaimed silver and gold as well as ethically sourced gemstones for every piece of jewelry it creates.

Collaborating on more than forty-five years of combined experience in art and design, a sustained interest in architecture, and a focus on working with regenerative and adaptable materials, the John Hardy companies have set out to establish an innovative design vocabulary – combined with farsighted construction techniques and engineering standards for bamboo residences, hotels, public buildings, interiors, and furnishings.

The John Hardy Spring 2016 Collection features updates to its classic lines. This includes the Classic Chain Magic Cut Ring in silver and accented with blue topaz and diamonds and the Bamboo Hook Bracelet that can be worn for everyday work. Diamonds add elegance to this piece.

Also for spring 2016 is the Legends Naga Slim Flex Cuff. Its bluish accents and dramatic detail is inspired by a mythical water dragon that is said to protect pearls in the ocean.

The John Hardy brand continues to embody ultimate beauty revered throughout the world and promotes its work as, “Powerful pieces shaped by hand and touched by inspiration.”

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