This gemstone chandelier isn’t technically jewelry, but it IS made of jewels! I’d wear it if I could, but I think pure size dictates that this one has to be jewelry for a house, not a person. Or perhaps a castle – it is that spectacular.
Sebastian Jaramillo’s Alhaja, the 23,000 carat gemstone chandelier
Alhaja is a work of gemstone art by Colombian gemologist and designer Sebastian Jaramillo. This mind-boggling piece took over 6 years to build, is made up of 2,000 individual handmade pieces, and features more than 23,000 carats of gemstones.
Jaramillo was studying with GIA in New York City when inspiration struck. In the designer’s own words:
I remember sitting on the steps of New York’s public library, that’s when I first came up with the idea of making something grandiose, something absurdly beautiful, something that deep down I always wanted to create but lacked the courage to start.
As I sat there consumed in an imaginary of gems and light, possessed by my eccentric inner child that dares to dream big and imagine with few rules and boundaries, Alhaja came to life. I knew after that, that someday, somehow, I had to create her.”
The central element of the chandelier is a lush expanse of 800 hand-carved curling green leaves made of enamel over gold-backed lucite. Alhaja’s fantastic foliage is home to a flock of 22 tiny, bejeweled insects and animals, each lovingly shaped in precious materials.
Every inhabitant of this abundant gemstone chandelier is an homage to the rich biodiversity of Jaramillo’s homeland, Colombia.
There are gilded silver dragonflies made from opals, sapphires, tourmaline, and tanzanite, frozen mid-flight with delicate wings of plique-a-jour enamel. Butterflies of amethyst, sapphire, citrine, and aquamarine. Snails of garnet, amethyst, and pearl. A golden bird with an emerald eye. A butterfly with rubellite, sapphires, and aquamarines. Bees with enameled wings and pearl bodies. Alhaja is simply teeming with gemstone creatures.
Oh and if that weren’t enough: these precious creatures are all suspended by wire for an en tremblant effect, allowing each insect and butterfly to flutter in every breeze, bringing the art to life.
The central elements of the chandelier are gold-plated, with a top canopy of hand-chased flowers with peridots and red guilloche enamel. The second enameled canopy suspends 24 ropes made of tumbled amethysts and baroque pearls that connect to the central shaft. From that central shaft springs hundreds of carefully formed lily flowers, each one centered by a vivid garnet.
Don’t worry, this gemstone chandelier is practical, too – Alhaja is also a functional light fixture! The upper canopy features 6 gold lion heads with gemstone eyes, every one adorned with an amethyst-set wreath and clutching an amethyst in its mouth. Each lion serves as the anchor for a curving lamp with gemstone-adorned screws and matte glass shades.
I told you that Alhaja is a 23,000 carat gemstone chandelier, but that’s not precisely true. The reality is that Jaramillo had so many tiny, elaborate creatures to create that he actually lost count of the gemstone weights…he stopped counting at 23,000 carats, so that’s the weight he gives.
But really it’s somewhere between 23,000 carats and infinity.
What do you think, my darlings? Do you love this as much as I do? Are you going to commission one for your house? Can I come visit you and stare at it?
If you’d like to see more of Sebastian Jaramillo’s work, visit his website here.
Images c/o Sebastian Jaramillo.