A jeweler-artist’s bust of Cleopatra is made of 24k gold-plated brass wires that look like abstracted blood vessels. Her eyeballs are encrusted with jade, cheeks punctuated by agate, mouth indicated by glinting pearl. The forehead shines with moonstone and topaz.
The back of her head is embellished with rose quartz, onyx, carnelian and calcite. The bust is grounded by moonstone, citrine and agate.
The highlight of the sculpture is a pendulum inside the bust, made of marble, jade and rose quartz—all of which supposedly promote calmness and harmony.
In fact, all the stones in the bust are said to be imbued with healing properties.
The kinetic sculpture is titled, in Latin, “Persona Infans Cleopatrae,” suggesting the Old World inspiration of the design.
“I feel a connection with the ancient times. That’s why my pieces are named in Latin,” says third-generation jeweler Ivan Co. “I wanted to express myself by creating things that have never been seen before. I am pushing the limits with what I can do with jewelry.”
Co, 35, grew up in his father’s atelier. In 2007, he joined a jewelry design competition in Hong Kong, organized by the South Sea Pearl Design Consortium. His winning entry, a Philippine ebony and silver bangle lined with South Sea pearls and rivets on the border, got him a scholarship at the Gemological Institute of America in New York.
Co’s semi-fine jewelry is characterized by gold-plated brass and precious and semi-precious stones. Under the label Ornamento, they resemble medieval pendants and are sold exclusively at the House of Laurel in Poblacion, Makati.
Co also makes customized pieces for clients who want statement pieces such as a gold-plated brass collar with a huge labradorite flanked by pearls, or a triangular reliquary pendant crafted with Philippine ebony and a striking agate surrounded by rounded, polished jade.
Despite his success in business, Co wanted to produce something more meaningful. As therapy for stress, he started creating kinetic sculptures that look like gold-plated brass towers and skeletal swings with a bejeweled pendulum suspended from an axle.
The rhythmic, back-and-forth swinging motion of the pendulum soothed his nerves. “I find stillness in the pendulum movement,” he says.
The pendulum has been used as a tool for healing. It is supposed to release repressed emotions and harmonize one’s energy flow.
Co’s first piece of kinetic art was a gold-plated brass swing with 11 pieces of onyx pendulums. Its frame was enhanced by jade and pearls. With beginner’s luck, he sold his first piece to a psychologist in half an hour.
Another work, “Heaven’s Gate,” is a geometric, gold-plated frame with a Z-shaped lever that swings in a circular motion. The decorative black obsidian, moonstones, marble, agate and jade are supposed to promote aura cleansing.
“Rotondun,” a floral frame with onyx, obsidian, jade, quartz and pearls, is another pendulum. Meanwhile, “Tiribulum” is a gold-plated tower with a pendulum of aventurine, a translucent quartz that is supposed to neutralize negative emotions.
Co’s first wall-mounted piece, “Custos Draco,” is an ornate frame with two marble stones on both ends of the lever, embellished with jade, pearl and agate. “I use these kinetic sculptures as my meditation companions,” he says.
Unfazed by the competition and the trials, Co is mounting a mini exhibit of his sculpture and jewelry sale, “Bejeweled Holiday,” on Nov. 23 at Ascott BGC. It will feature gold-plated busts adorned with pendulums and healing stones.