Vicente Gracia is a jeweller like few others. Not content to produce luxury pieces for wealthy clients, he is more of an artist that has chosen the sculpting of precious metals and stones as his medium. The result is a style that draws on ancient inspiration to redefine jewellery as we know it today.
Perhaps the single greatest source of inspiration for Vicente is the fabled Alhambra palace in Granada. “The very first time I saw it, it set something loose in me, and I have visited it many times since.” How could a fairytale palace not appeal to a man with such a romantic streak? Walking into Vicente’s atelier is like stepping into his ‘secret garden’ – a highly personal realm where he feels at ease among an eclectic collection of fascinating art, costumes and artefacts. It is in this setting that his imagination is set free, fed by the classical poetry, literature and folk tales of Medieval Spain, Europe and exotic Caliphates.
The product is such iconic works as his fountain ring based on the famous fountain in the Alhambra. At its centre a drop appears to be falling in the water, sending out concentric rings towards an edge engraved in Arabic scripts from the Alhambra. As with all his jewellery, the ring is part of a narrative that chronicles life in its many forms and observations. The sheer size and detailed exuberance of his style gives Vicente’s collections a touch of Baroque grandeur, just the thing for a clientele that wants to move beyond the strict geometry of designer labels to something altogether more artistically flawed. “Our pieces are very personal and unique, and this appeals to our collectors, many of which come from the USA.” Although his pieces are for sale in New York and London, some of his best patrons choose to fly to Valencia, stay at Vicente’s chic little boutique hotel in the historic centre of the city, and pick out or commission their next pieces in person.
A favourite at Christie’s
Vicente also enjoys a particularly close and personal relationship with Christie’s, which are great fans and supporters of his work. His work has appeared on many a Christie’s catalogue and has been exhibited from London to Dubai, with some pieces specially selected by Queen Sofia of Spain. “It all came about rather coincidentally,” says Vicente, who took a leading Belgravia beauty salon up on their offer to exhibit his work during an annual Christmas gala dinner and ended up meeting David Warren, head of Christie’s jewellery department. Renowned for his encyclopaedic knowledge, Warren recognised an individual piece in the Gracia collection from a feature in an American magazine several years before. Not surprisingly, the two struck up a friendship that has lasted to this day.
Another great influence in Vicente’s creative life has been Rene Lalique, to whom he pays homage through much of his work and indeed with his equally enthusiastic love of colourful semiprecious stones. “Before Lalique, jewellers were mostly master craftsmen. He infused this tradition with art and allowed a new generation of designers to explore new realms. Sometimes escaping the constraints of diamonds and working with the beautiful colours of precious and semiprecious stones is just a part of that process.” A recipient of international prizes and commissions from serious collectors around the world, Vicente Gracia is a creator of the kind of jewellery that allows us to take a flight of fancy and escape from the real world to a gentler romantic ideal. Surely that is what art is all about.