The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung once claimed, “Nothing can discourage the creative spirit.” And pandemic or not, the creative fires within jewelry designer Gloria Bass blaze brightly. “Any time I consider not working, I find a project that excites me—usually more than one,” Bass says.
Throughout the uncertainty of recent times, she has continued to produce new work for an international clientele, and has made it easier for them to buy via her online store. And when allowed, the doors of her store on Greene Ave. in Westmount are open to customers by appointment. It’s an offer that people such as chanteuse Lara Fabian take advantage of. Fabian has worn Bass’s creations to events for years and now serves as spokesmodel.
Fabian heads a customer list that contains myriad prominent names. Examples of the pieces designed for them appear on the Gloria Bass Design website under the Private Collection tab. But you will not find the name of the person who commissioned, say, the striking black granite and diamond cufflinks there. “I could not have stayed in business for 45 years if I were not discreet,” Bass says. “But I make each piece to express something about the person wearing it, so there is a story behind every single one.”
About 50 per cent of the award-winning designer’s time is spent crafting custom commissions. An artist at heart, she sometimes designs pieces just for the sheer love of creating. She draws inspiration from nature, art, architecture, popular culture, and the world around her. Often, it is a gemstone from her private dragon’s horde that serves as her muse. She loves them all: sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and more. “I also have a lot of unusual stones that people haven’t heard about: spinels, coloured sapphires, beryls, moonstones, tourmalines, peridots,” she says. “They are of fine gemstone quality.”
Bass recently designed a ring inspired by a vibrant blue tanzanite stone. “It was cut into a rare shape called a ‘sugarloaf’ cabochon, which Cartier used for sapphires in the 1920s,” she says. “It makes the stone ever-more translucent and beautiful, just crying out for the right setting in which to shine.” In this case, platinum and pavé diamonds.
With women dressing for Zoom these days, demand has shot up for earrings in Bass’s signature style: large chunky gemstones or statement pearls, used in combination to exquisite effect. For an unexpected and chic twist, she proposes something like a pair of earrings with large South Sea pearls and diamonds—black for one ear, white for the other.
Early in her career, Gloria Bass pioneered a way to interpret what was originally a basket-weaving technique into metal. The result—delicate wrapped wire coil that has become a hallmark of her work—graces designs for both men and women. And it is used in another of her signature styles: the stacking rings. They make a unique addition to the large and diverse collection that showcases the wide range of her artistry.
Next up, Bass is tinkering with a way to reimagine the engagement ring. “I’m really tired of the looks available to brides today,” she says. “There needs to be a style that is simple and classic, but dynamic. I intend for it to be something truly novel and timeless.” •
Gloria Bass Design