Francis Mertens contends that
you cannot create truly innovative designs if you try to make them from
traditional precious metals. "Gold and platinum are heavy and thus limiting in
what you can make," says Mertens, a former trucking entrepreneur who five
years ago opened his first diamond jewelry workshop in his native Antwerp,
Belgium. Instead of gold or platinum, Mertens prefers titanium, but before he
could incorporate the metal into his designs, he had Airbus engineers teach him
how to work with it.
Last spring, Mertens presented his first titanium designs to
buyers at Bergdorf Goodman; the retailer will launch the Francis Mertens jewelry
collection in its Fifth Avenue store in November. Mertens spent four years
assembling the collection, which comprises voluminous and surprisingly
lightweight diamond-studded hoops and three-dimensional floral earrings,
brooches, and necklaces. He also developed a rhodium treatment that transforms
the inherently gray appearance of the titanium with a finish that mimics white,
yellow, or pink gold.
"Until now jewelry was very flat," says Mertens. "Titanium
gives you the ability to create three-dimensional, sculptural designs that are
still light, feminine, and stylish."
Francis Mertens, available at Bergdorf Goodman, 212.872.2578,