Swiss-raised Klaus Kutter has been practicing the art of fine jewelry making for almost 30 years. A graduate of the Jens Grisson Atelier in Geneva, Switzerland, he moved back to his native US to start his jewelry company, A Jour, in 1994. These days you can find him crafting unique designs at his Bristol studio. We chatted with him to find out what continues to inspire his designs.
Tell us what initially brought you into jewelry design.
It was kind of a family thing: one of my grandfathers was a watchmaker, and the other one had a small costume jewelry manufacturing company in Germany. I have worked with jewelry since I was 12-years-old. The complexity of the process always intrigued me. I love working with my hands to create something. Basically, it is a precise and challenging craft with a very rewarding result.
What influences your design aesthetic?
I’m pretty sure my very classic training in Geneva has a strong influence. I like movement and curves. I like the unique, the out-of-the-norm. I am very aware of my environment and get inspiration from all kinds of directions. Nature, buildings, other jewelry, cars you name it. If it is pretty, I register it and maybe one day it will come back and inspire a new piece.
While creating custom pieces, what do you enjoy most about working with stones and precious metals?
The fact that every piece is different means there’s never a dull moment. Certain design ideas demand total new approaches. It can be very challenging. I love that aspect; I see each challenge as the ingredient that makes life fun.
The other part I enjoy is the beauty of it all: the gems, the precious metal, the luster, the feel, the heaviness. I love the look on my customers’ faces when they pick up a piece. It is very rewarding.
What makes an A Jour piece different?
When you come to A Jour you are not talking to just a merchant, you are talking to a person that has a very intimate and deep knowledge of jewelry. You are talking to a person that can sit down at the bench with a chunk of gold and make anything you can dream of. I use cutting edge technology combined with solid old-country craftsmanship. You don’t just choose a piece out of a case, you can create one with me and have your dream realized.
Every step of jewelry production is handled in house here at A Jour, that’s how we can guarantee the top quality we are known for. I don’t have to meet weight parameters like mass-produced pieces do. I don’t hollow my jewelry. Our jewelry is handset under the microscope and we take great care to make sure that each stone sits tight.
The comment I receive most when people come to pick up their pieces is: “wow I love how this ring feels.” Aside from looking good, my jewelry feels good. It’s very important to me that my jewelry fits comfortably. In my opinion, jewelry has to be pretty, elegant and very comfortable as well as functional.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to re-work an older piece?
I love jewelry makeovers. Total refurbishment of an heirloom to its original glory or “scavenging” your old pieces for the good parts like stones and metal is one of my specialties. I can create a brand new heirloom while still maintaining the family connection. It’s a fun and extremely rewarding process.
A Jour Jewelry
325 Metacom Avenue, Bristol