VAIL — Embodying the earth’s most basic treasures and humankind’s most primitive talent, Mauro Felter has a way with precious metals, stones and gems. Capturing the character of themes such as earth, fire and water and intricate, colorful scenes of ancient cave dwelling life within the confines of a ring, garnet, earring, necklace or cufflink is no simple endeavor. But Felter is inspired. Hailing from Val Cominica, Italy, the Italian has always felt drawn to the creative energy that spawned from his region long ago — from the first millennium B.C. to be precise. The valley in the northern region of Italy was once home to the Camuni — an ancient population famous for its incredible and prolific rock etchings — the earliest form of art known as petroglyphs.
“Since the real beginning of my career I have been always been attracted by petroglyphs,” Felter said. “Perhaps also because I was born in a valley where there is one of the biggest European sites of petroglyphs. They are one of the few possibilities we have to know something about man’s life on earth from the origin. Every one of us takes his roots from prehistoric men. It is a line that joins all of us. That’s why I’ve decided to evoke them on my jewels.”
In Felter’s latest collection, he has a ring and necklace set entitled “Camuni.” The necklace — hung on a simple gold chain from a diamond-speckled clasp — features a gold and silver coin decorated with extremely detailed miniature petroglyphs. Like the original ancient etchings, Felter’s miniature versions depict primitive figures bearing spears, gathering food and dancing.
Inspiration from nature
“Besides history, I take my inspiration from nature. It represented life for prehistoric men. They got food from nature. In the sun and stars they saw gods. The wood was important for them because it gave fire,” he says.
Consequently, the Italian also has made entire collections entitled “Earth,” “Water,” “Fire,” “Air” and “Time.” The symbolic beauty of each piece is complex and dazzling. The “Water” collection, for example, includes 18-karat gold earrings and nuggets of diamond-flecked white gold resembling dewdrops, “Earth” features pins with blue boulder opal and intricately designed yellow gold and diamonds that resemble a pond full of autumn leaves, a white gold ring with meshed diamonds accentuating a hypnotizing blue tanzanite. Even after scrutinizing each piece carefully, there is some new detail to be discovered at every glance.
“A lot of pieces I’m going to display at Karats gallery have been inspired by nature,” Felter said. “For example, some works evoke bark of the trees and others a path of flowers thanks to the magnificent color of precious stones set together. Again, the night blue sky with its stars has been the inspiration for some of my jewels belonging to the Midnight Star collection.”
Exotic stones featuring blends of cool blues, copper and white surrounded by pink gems bear an uncanny resemblance to the night sky dangling from earrings and beaming from the center of a white gold garnet and are just a couple of samples from the Midnight Star.
Meaningful as they are to the elements that Felter holds dearest, his primary hope is that his work — each particular piece selected — resonates in some special way with the individual wearing it.
‘It must be mine’
“I hope my works evoke emotions in other people,” he said. “I hope to be able to transmit the significance of my pieces to the person who wears them. When you purchase a piece of art, a painting or a jewel, something moves inside you. You fall in love with that piece and you think, ‘it must be mine.’ That’s what I hope.”
Shauna Farnell is a marketing consultant for Karats. Email comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.