TOKYO — Yuta Ishihara, a jewellery designer, has been thinking about making things that would endure a lifetime or more for years. “When I was in my late teens, I began to consider the idea that I wanted things to last for a longer length of time,” he explained. “I made the decision that if I made something, I wanted it to last.”
That ambition is reflected in his most recent initiative, the exquisite jewellery line Yutai. The one-of-a-kind pieces are crafted of durable precious metals (he exclusively uses yellow or white gold and platinum), and certain styles revive historic settings manufactured in the Japanese prefecture where he grew up. Mr. Ishihara, 35, was born and reared in Yamanashi, Japan’s most productive jewelry-making area.
Yuta Ishihara, 35, was born and reared in Yamanashi, Japan’s most productive jewelry-producing prefecture. His family, on the other hand, grows flowers, and as a child, he used to dig in the ground around the flower nursery and find ceramic pieces from the prehistoric Jomon period (14,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.) and chunks of obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glass, both of which were common finds in the area.
“That really stayed with me since those are thousands of years old,” he explained. “Those things last, and we know about them today because they’ve lasted as long as they have due to the material.”
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Yuta Ishihara chose to attend university outside of the prefecture. “At the time, I talked with my family, and we concluded that there would be more prospects in Tokyo,” he explained. “If I had gone to school in Yamanashi, I would have remained, and I don’t think things would have turned out the way they do now.”
In 2008, he completed a three-year programme at Tokyo’s Hiko Mizuno College of Jewelry, and in 2010, he launched his first brand, Shihara. The brand, which is now offered in stores all around the world and online, takes a minimalist approach to jewellery, with sleek, often geometric forms and clasps or posts integrated into the designs.
According to Chika Wakatsuki, director of the Yamanashi Jewelry Museum, “the simple and strong style of his jewellery helps the wearer stand out.” From every aspect, it seems elegant, clean, and austere, and I believe it is a design that succeeds at linking people and space.”
Yuta Ishihara said that while developing Shihara pieces, he was frequently thinking about a completely different sort of collection — and then the epidemic offered him the opportunity to actually make one. “With Shihara, we deal with materials that can be reproduced, allowing us to make items on demand,” he explained. “However, with Yutai, you get exactly what you see.”
“The material comes first, and then the design,” Mr. Ishihara explained. “Somethings I only have one piece of, so certain materials are unique,” she adds. He discovered some golden pearls from the Philippine Sea, for example, but just enough to produce three necklaces ($14,200 apiece). “I prefer this hue because it’s really close to gold,” he explained.
Yutai will be officially unveiled in the United States next month at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, followed by a Japanese debut in February at Tokyo’s Dover Street Market.
Yumi Shin, head merchant at Bergdorf Goodman, stated in an email that the store has “always loved Yuta Ishihara’s jewellery company Shihara’s simple, intelligent, and complex creations.”
“He continues to explore and push the perfect balance of usefulness and beauty utilising semiprecious and precious stones, skillfully splicing and fusing stones together to give each item its distinct beauty and depth,” she continued.
Yuta Ishihara creates the Yutai sculptures, which have uncommon effects and are handcrafted by artists in Yamanashi and Tokyo.
Sectional necklaces are made by splicing jewels, such as jade or rubies, that have been hammered and polished into the shape of pearls into single-strand pearl necklaces.
“I like to blend various aspects, and it’s also about modifying the way a traditional pearl necklace might appear by adding new materials,” he explained. The clasp, which is concealed inside the strand, reflects the form of the pearls and is secured with a keyhole-shaped mechanism. Prices range from $4,900 for a blue chalcedony variant to $10,300 for a jade version.
Mr. Ishihara created Sectional necklaces in 2012 and has since sold a handful at Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, including a jade one purchased by Rihanna in Tokyo. He will now solely sell them as part of his new line.
Yutai also provides Revive rings, which have cocktail ring settings manufactured by Yamanashi artisans in the 1980s, during Japan’s “bubble economy” time when many people wore what is today considered gaudy jewellery. Yuta Ishihara explained, “I acquired the settings from a wholesale market in Yamanashi.” “They were sold ‘as is,’ or occasionally without the jewel, with little regard for the artistry that went into them.”
The rings’ centre jewels were originally encircled by baguette-cut diamonds in a ballerina setting. The majority of them were handcrafted, “most likely in Yamanashi, even though there’s no way to track it,” he added. “That position no longer exists due to the advancement of CAD (computer-assisted design), and there is no market need.”
Yuta Ishihara stated that he deconstructs the rings “to make them more contemporary,” replacing the small original bands with the broader ones that are presently popular. In some cases, where the central gem was gone, he simply repurposed the empty setting as a decorative piece on a new band.