Masters Dreams takes a look and the people and processes behind some of the world’s most famous pieces of jewellery. This four-part documentary series starts with a look at Italy’s world-renowned jewellers, followed by French and Swiss, English and South African, and finally jewellers of the Americas.
“The actresses of today are the princesses of times gone by,” Silvia Damiani of Damiani jewellers reveals during the opening moments of Episode 1: The Italian Jewellers (Les Joailliers Italiens). From Sharon Stone to Kirsten Dunst, a variety of red carpet regulars regularly demonstrate their penchant for a bit of bling, not forgetting, of course, true Hollywood royalty, Elizabeth Taylor, who was rarely seen without her trademark jewels.
Yet Masters of Dreams is not simply a tale of the famous faces and preposterous price tags. Instead, directors Guillaume De Ginestel, Eric Ellena, Jane Lipman & Sean O’Sullivan invite audiences to witness the craftsmanship, creativity and prestige found within thirteen legendary jewellers: Boucheron, Buccellati, Bulgari, Chaumet, Chopard, Damiani, De Beers Jewellery, Forevermark, Graff Diamonds, H.Stern, John Hardy, Stephen Webster, Verdura.
If that list meant nothing to you then don’t despair; this documentary is quick to ensure that the significance of such brands becomes clear. However, what is perhaps most interesting is the fact that, behind the famous names and opulent design houses, there often sits rather simple, sentimental men, sketching away at the design for their next diamond-encrusted masterpiece. A more pretentious film might have lingered on this matter, highlighting the melancholy which appears to accompany their abundance of luxury and creativity. Perhaps to its detriment, Masters of Dreams moves swiftly on, remaining relatively matter of fact about the wildly intriguing world of jewellery-making.
Amidst the elegance and the extravagance, therefore, it seems strange that designers at The House of Bulgari cite the 2010 film Burlesque, starring Christina Aguilera no less, as the inspiration for one of their more recent pieces. Again, this slightly strange factoid is sadly glossed over by the filmmakers, and swapped for a sea of women admiring themselves, their eyes eye wide with admiration for the jewels draped across their chests and hanging from their wrists.
Giamaria Buccellati, President and Designer of Buccellati, provides one of the first episode’s most interesting characters. There is something slightly child-like about his passion for turning irregular pearls into animal-shaped pieces of jewellery, whilst well-turned out women ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the beauty of his creations – for which it presumably charges a (perhaps not so) small fortune. An assistant at Bulgari also provides a little light relief for the more cynical viewer, excitedly exclaiming, “Look at the beauty! Look how supple it is! Good enough to eat!” upon the arrival of a much anticipated necklace.
Money, in fact, is only explicitly mentioned during a tense trip to Christie’s auction house, but a sense of wealth certainly permeates the industry and, indeed, this documentary. More surprisingly, the concept of fashion also feels relatively overlooked, with a number of designs appearing rather garish and outdated. The series opts for voiceovers, rather than subtitles – a decision which works less well during the series’ more conversational moments and fails to endear the viewer to those involved in this highly opulent business. Yet the behind-the-scenes look at the craftsmanship responsible for high-end jewellery remains impressive, their painstaking attention to detail offering some justification for the undeniable indulgence of such extraordinary creations.
Masters of Dreams is released on 1st June 2013, the film is composed of four 53 minute episodes focussing on the Italian jewellers, the French & Swiss jewellers, the English & South African jewellers, the jewellers of the Americas. It also comes with a 24-page French/English booklet profiling all 13 jewellers.
See the trailer here: