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Brand focus: Josef Koppmann, the master craftsman of exquisite jewellery

Josef Koppmann

When it comes to exquisite jewellery, only the finest will do – and whilst the market is awash with beautiful pieces that are sure to take your breath away, it takes something truly special to stand out from the crowd.

Whilst sparkling diamond necklaces and dainty pearl earrings are classic pieces that will never go out of style, when you want to make a statement, these days, they just won’t do. If bold, unique and entirely original pieces are what you’re looking for, on the other hand, then we know just the man – and he’s causing quite a stir in the world of luxury, high-end jewellery with his contemporary and show-stopping designs.

Setting a stone
Josef’s sculptural and geometric forms are predominately made in sterling silver with 24 carat gold overlay, fused together by using traditional techniques

Josef Koppmann is truly a master of craftsmanship, and you only have to watch him work for a moment to understand the depth of the passion he has for his trade. He is meticulous and dedicated to each and every piece he produces, adding playful elements to clear, solid forms and tactile finishes to create never-seen-before patterns that you’ll want to make all yours.

Using traditional techniques to construct and forge beautifully detailed pieces from sterling silver and 24 carat gold, Koppmann expertly offsets the textured richness of the pure gold with the coolness of brushed silver, incorporating carefully selected and often unusual precious and semi-precious stones to come up with some truly inspired creations.

The Josef Koppmann gallery was set up in 2008 at the Oxo Tower Wharf, the contemporary design hub of London’s South Bank, to showcase his exclusive line of minimalist jewellery, and his latest collection – which explores symmetry and geometric shapes.

But Koppmann does not limit himself to UK soil, and his work can also be viewed in galleries across Europe – easily recognisable thanks to his flair for stylishly combining precious metals and stones in a way that is both original and unique.

Making of a ring
Having studied at the Arts and Crafts College in Vienna, Josef set up his own studio in London and opened the OXO Tower showroom in 2008

Koppmann’s work is elegant, uncomplicated and unequivocally beautiful – so it’s little wonder he has so quickly made such a name for himself in the world of luxury jewellery. But just who is he – and from where does he get his inspiration?

“Most people don’t realise it from the name, but I am actually of Italian descent,” Josef explains.

“I was born in the Italian Alps, the Dolomites, and I think that has formed the essence of my style. It’s a reflection of the rugged landscape and the bright mountain flowers; my homeland, the natural element, the rough fineness of strong, almost earthy gold – the rough finishes and forms of some of the stones.

“But, living in London, in a fast moving, global metropolis, my style also strongly reflects the sculptural modern architecture that surrounds me. Clean, solid forms and tactile finishes, with the shape of the stone leading the direction of the work.”

18ct Yellow Gold and Silver Small Hollow Bangle and 22ct Gold and Silver Large Hollow Bangle
18ct Yellow Gold and Silver Small Hollow Bangle and 22ct Gold and Silver Large Hollow Bangle

Whilst it’s clear that his surroundings have a strong influence on the masterful pieces of jewellery he creates, it’s not all down to London and the Dolomites – and Koppmann also credits his superior education for propelling him into the position he finds himself in today.

“My schooling was in Austria. In the early 1980s I attended the Arts & Crafts College in Vienna, where I saw classical paintings, Viennese palaces – the culture is incredible. I was inspired by the Klimt exhibitions, the smattering of unyielding accents of textured gold,” he remembers wistfully.

“After Vienna, I studied as an apprentice in Silandro, Italy. I spent five years there, heavily focussed on craftsmanship and precision. Attention to detail is everything, and it’s for this reason that every piece of jewellery I produce today is painstakingly made by hand. Cufflink backs, earring backs, even necklace clasps – I handmake them all. Precision is everything, so I refuse to just buy my fixtures off the shelf.

“My customers wear my pieces as dramatic statements and they don’t want cheap, factory made components. What they do want is quality that looks good from the front, the back, the top, the side – every possible angle.”

22ct Gold and Silver Ring with Amethyst Square
22ct Gold and Silver Ring with Amethyst Square

Many would describe Koppmann as a perfectionist, and it’s clear that his meticulous approach to all that he does has served him incredibly well thus far. He continues to work with a number of big names brands on high profile projects – one of the most notable of which being a past collaboration with Absolut Vodka.

The brand commissioned Koppmann for their Absolut Zodiac project, to create a sterling silver spike stiletto, replete with dominatrix style spiked anklet. To pull it off, he had to consult with a well-known shoe designer to gain an understanding of the process of shoemaking, and to create a real shoe in silver – not just a replica. It fit the model like a glove, and is still one of the most spectacular and unique pieces he has created thus far.

The jeweller’s association with big names doesn’t end there, and Koppmann was later commissioned by EMI Records to create a logo and jewellery for the album launch of Louise Redknapp. Ulrich Engler, couturier, commissioned him to create jewellery and accessories for his signature collections – which are worn on the catwalks all over Europe, pictured in magazines all over the globe, and coveted, of course, by many.

24ct Gold and Silver Sting Ray Necklace with Black Druzy Agate and Black Rose Cut Diamonds
24ct Gold and Silver Sting Ray Necklace with Black Druzy Agate and Black Rose Cut Diamonds

With a wealth of both stockists and clients spanning the entire globe, things are going from strength to strength for Koppmann.

“My clients are very varied,” he says thoughtfully. “They are the seasoned gent, looking for something different. They are millennials, looking for something no-one else will be wearing, yet something that is also ethical and hand-crafted. They are performance artists, looking for statement pieces. They are architects, designers and a handful of well-known actors and performers.”

So, for those interested in seeing his spectacular collections first hand – where on earth to start?

“My work attracts collectors, chiefly from Europe and the USA. Back in the day, my work was displayed in the iconic Gallery Electrum in South Molton Street and the Lesley Craze Gallery in Clerkenwell, now sadly closed. Now you will find a collection at the Contemporary Applied Arts Gallery (Southwark Street), Kath Libbert Gallery in Saltaire, the annual Goldsmiths’ Fair (Koppmann is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths) and I have just finished exhibiting at Fortnum & Mason.”

24ct Gold and Silver Smokey Quartz Navettes and Diamonds Earrings
24ct Gold and Silver Smokey Quartz Navettes and Diamonds Earrings

“Abroad, you can find my work in Paris, at the Galerie Elsa Vanier, and also at the Galleri Hoff in Copenhagen. Hoff is one of the few galleries in Copenhagen that actually stocks work by foreign makers, so it’s a great honour to be included. The owner trained as a jeweller herself, but then changed her focus to selling contemporary work – so I think she has a good understanding of what I’m trying to achieve.”

Home or away, there are plenty of places to catch a glimpse of Koppmann’s truly inspired works – and believe us, once you see them in real life, you’ll certainly see what all the fuss is about.