A successful twelve-year career in finance kept Nick Koss engaged and motivated, but his decision to leave the industry to start Volund Jewelry went beyond a desire to change workplace scenery. After a little prompting, Koss reveals that designing jewelry is in his blood. His great-grandfather was the master jeweler to the Romanoff family and the Imperial Court of Russia, a position that demanded the creation of masterpieces, as a matter of course.
Koss refers to his great-grandfather in a mythical way, and as an inspiration for the name of his business. Volund is the master blacksmith of Norse mythology, and in Koss’ opinion, his great-grandfather has the same mythical status. Born in Siberia to parents from Sweden and Finland, he grew up spending time in museums, studying ancient artifacts that inspire his work today. By coincidence, a set of masterfully engraved silver cups passed down in his family are stamped with the double-headed eagle of Russian royalty, the only evidence of his distinguished bloodline
The story of Volund has the same mystique. Koss knows these tales by heart. Although he remarks that stories and prose have been passed down, he states that “Only a few metal figurines depicting a man with wings (a Norse Icarus, if you will) have been found. His own creations, whether rings or other royal treasures, seem lost to time.” His own creations, whether it is stories like these and others that manifest themselves in Koss’ designs, show a commitment to learning other forms of art with long and storied histories.
As he transitioned into the jewelry business, Koss traveled to Europe to learn the same arts and trades practiced by his ancestors, often going as close to its source as necessary. He visited the Baltic Nations to learn wax carving, Germany and Italy for design studies, and his ancestral homeland of Russia for sculpting. He founded Volund in 2012.
THE BEGINNING OF VOLUND
Headquartered in Vancouver, Volund’s line of work involves visiting clients for lengthy face-to-face discussion when working with commissioned pieces. This leads him to places like the UAE, China, and Monaco, where consultations about the inspiration and materials used undertaken. He counts on several noble families in the Middle East and Europe for patronage and is finding new inspiration worldwide as his network of clients grows. Volund’s bespoke pieces are meant to be genuinely personal, never riding on trends or emulating something that already exists. These jewels are referred to as numinous, which Koss explains means to “inspire awe and radiate power like spiritual reliquaries or enchanted objects from legends.” Single pieces can take months, while full collections could involve over a year of work. This timeline is accepted by Volund’s clients, who recognize what is necessary to invest in such a unique piece. What makes Volund genuinely unique is its aversion to traditional marketing, relying instead on word-of-mouth.
In a 2018 interview with Tempus Magazine, Koss refers to an early client, a Saudi nobleman, who stated, “We don’t want you to be known” when accepting a Volund bespoke piece. Koss has seen this attitude with increasing regularity as his client base has grown. His clients are tastemakers who want to preserve the mystery and influence of a piece that is unique to them. Far removed from the posturing of the mainstream luxury jewelry market, Volund’s commitment to quality is mirrored by the commitment to its protection.
VOLUND GOES PUBLIC
In spite of this protectionism, Koss released his first public collection in 2015. The Lions Line is inspired by the symbolism of strength, dominance, and nobility, in addition to the influence of the lion in ancient alchemy.
The results of this are breathtaking pieces like the Lion Cub Ring, a playful cat that seems to be springing off the wearer’s finger. The cub has eyes of emerald and cognac diamonds that appear as spots on its back. The Lion Earrings, representing a scene of astrological inspiration, won Canadian Jeweller Magazine’s Best Pearl Design in 2016. This collection shows the ease with how art can imitate nature while reflecting Volund’s themes of the ancient and the mythological.
Volund has released other public collections, including the Initiation, Art Deco, and the Norse. A list of Object’s D’Art is made up of the Jade Monkey, Golden Gryphon, and Flight of Ecstasy, an 18-carat gold piece inspired by iconic Rolls Royce hood ornament, was completed after 900 hours of work and required 7-ounces of gold and 6-carats of diamonds. “The sculpture was an effort to capture the feeling of freedom and exhilaration,” says Koss. “I wanted to make gold look like cloth that moved in the wind, and that took some modern physics simulation programs combined with traditional sculpture-making skills.” All labour was carried out in his Vancouver studio using sustainably-procured gold and traceable diamonds. The statue now resides in London and has been recently shown at a Royal event celebrating the birth of Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s baby.
VOLUND’S GLOBAL APPEAL
Volund shows no signs of compromising the values it was founded on. As requests pour in from across the globe, design and production is still based out of Vancouver – traditional stone setting, casting, and goldsmithing.
Koss explains that “Los Angeles is the site of experimental, future-facing development and experimentation. Work with novel materials and cutting edge techniques happens here…and Geneva, Switzerland for very traditional techniques like enameling and mechanical movements.”
Koss feels a particular affinity to the city, calling out its cultural diversity and its location in “one of the best natural environments in the world.” Less than 20 pieces of jewelry are produced per year, and each new work will fulfill a dream of mysticism and wonderment in its unique way – even if it will be seen by a select few over its lifetime.
- Coleman Pete is a contributor for EcoLuxLuv Communications. Coleman writes about menswear, design, and culture, and can be found combing through vintage clothing racks or reading in one of his favourite cafés in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Read more by Coleman at OverdressedNW.com.
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