Henn of London is known to people from all over the world who have exquisite taste and an appreciation for individually handcrafted creations. I first learned about the company a few years ago when I was researching enamel jewellery for an article.
My attention was immediately drawn to Henn’s virtuosic realisation of its complex designs. What I found intriguing about this jewellery enterprise is that the Henn family is simultaneously involved in three lines of business: the sale of collector quality gems, designing unique art objects carved from stones, and the creation of one-of-a-kind jewellery.
No matter what piece you have in your hands, the artistic style of Henn of London is always showcased in coloured gemstones, elegant carvings and often delicate enamel. Each piece is entirely unique, possessing a depth – a soul – considering the love Hans-Juergen Henn and his sons Ingo Henn and Axel Henn have for creating masterpieces.
The founding father is based in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, along with Axel, who is a trained gemstone cutter and dealer. Together they take care of creating art objects and faceting precious stones, while Ingo operates in the famous London jewellery quarter of Hatton Garden where he designs and crafts jewels.
Master goldsmith Ingo Henn employs unique coloured gems to form the basis of his designs. This passion for precious stones comes from his father who is a renowned gemstone enthusiast. Searching for the best minerals, Hans-Juergen Henn was one of the first to take an interest in Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil as well as red spinels from Mahenge, Tanzania. Thanks to him, Henn’s collection and Ingo’s jewellery creations include very rare gem specimens that are now difficult to find.
“We only work with exceptional and rare examples of imperial topaz, Paraiba tourmaline, Mandarin garnets, spinels, and other coloured gemstones. Size, colour, quality and rarity – everything matters. We buy the raw minerals and cut the stones ourselves in Idar-Oberstein,” says Ingo Henn.
As someone who is steeped in the world of gems, Ingo observes new trends sported by his customers, so I asked him to share his observations. “Most of my work is made for private collections. Over the past few years, I have noticed that more and more clients are asking me not to add diamonds to the design because they feel they aren’t suited to everyday wear, but that’s just one group, my other clients adore the fact that diamonds are an integral part of the design,” Ingo enthusiastically explains.
Ingo’s creativity and his love for colour are impressive. In order to expand the possibilities of his designs, he decided to add enamel to his necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings, which was over 20 years ago. It has become one of the striking features of his designs along with carved gems.
Passion for stone cutting is reflected in such pieces as the ‘Celestial Lion’ with a carved aquamarine, the ‘Rising Phoenix’ necklace with a Brazilian citrine and many others. This is something that Ingo Henn has inherited from his father, who began exploring the medium of carvings approximately 40 years ago.
What’s interesting is that Hans-Juergen decided to use to precious specimens, such as aquamarines whose rough is usually cut into smaller pieces and faceted. Creating each art object is a very laborious process, one in which an entire team of gemstone carvers is involved. The design idea is born from the rough depending on its size, shape and colour distribution as one cannot just carve out any animal from a gem, the stone tells the carver what it wants to be: a bird, a cat, a bear… You have to work with the colour of the mineral and its inclusions, never counteracting the essence of the stone.
During my conversation with Hans-Juergen and Ingo, I realised something important: both father and sons are infinitely enthusiastic about the story behind any Henn of London creation – because it is the stories themselves that are the source of inspiration for any objet d’art and jewellery produced by the company. In many ways, and thanks to stories, the work of Henn of London literally comes to life before your very eyes!
AUTHOR: KATERINA PEREZ
PHOTOGRAPHER: SIMON MARTNER