Wellendorff Manufacture: “Today we still work with tools as we did 3,000 years ago”

Mr. Haas, you worked as a jeweler. Can you remember your first piece of jewelry?

I started my education at the age of 15, this was in 1977. In the first few years of training, jewelry is not usually made by yourself, but I remember my masterpiece. It was a diamond brooch. And my first piece of jewelry, which the customer later put on, was also a brooch with a large opal and diamonds on the outside.

Where did you study?

My father had a small jewelry workshop with three employees and a master. I was trained by him. Back then, jewelry was made individually, from design to setting and polishing the stone. Then, as now, jewelers had to master several crafts. My father’s business was located just a few kilometers from Pforzheim. Then I got my master’s degree at night school and met the chief designer of Wellendorff there. I entered Wellendorf two weeks after passing my master’s exam.

What is the biggest challenge for a jeweler?

I think that’s how we think about these values. If you are making jewelry today that costs a million euros and you are holding a stone that is unique in the world, you will have to work especially carefully. The stone should not be damaged, and in the end the decoration should look exactly as the customer and our designer imagine. For example, if you wanted to reinstall the stone, you would have to start almost all the work from scratch.

Already as a child he was interested in jewelry production: Jurgen Haas at the Wellendorff factory.

Are there any Wellendorf projects that were particularly unnerving?

Before I started working at Wellendorff, I worked in a factory where we made less valuable jewelry. When you receive a twenty-five carat emerald design and know that the stone only exists once and you will be the one making it into a necklace in the next five to six weeks, you command a lot of respect.

Wellendorff was founded 130 years ago by Ernst Alexander Wellendorff in Pforzheim. Did he really make the jewelry himself back then?

Yes he has. During the time of Ernst Alexander Wellendorf there was a lively exchange with Baden-Baden. At that time, the international aristocracy spent their summer holidays in the resort town. The young jeweler hit the road and showed the ladies his wares. He accepted orders, manufactured the pieces in Pforzheim and delivered them to courts as far away as Great Britain and Russia.

What kind of jewelry did Wellendorf make then?

1893 was the time of Art Nouveau. He created very delicate jewelry with floral elements and curved organic lines. He drew inspiration from nature. Traditional jewelry techniques, such as openwork work, played a big role, which hardly anyone can master today. This involves sawing done with special tools to create shallow indentations. Since white gold did not yet exist—it had only been invented in Pforzheim in 1912—Wellendorf made many pieces from platinum. Machining it was particularly challenging due to its hardness.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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