By Lisa van de Geyn
There’s a small village called Eisingen that borders the Black Forest in the south of Germany where you can find true decadence and sheer brilliance. If you’re not familiar with the superb work of IsabelleFa, it’s time to get acquainted. Th e company is nothing less than an institution in Europe — a jewellery designer and manufacturer that has stood the test of time and has preserved the centuries-old craftsmanship called traditional chain-making. Th eir pieces are unique and exclusive, and for good reason: IsabelleFa isn’t in the business of mass-production, only a few hundred jewellery pieces are made per year — its founders are real goldsmiths with a passion for traditional chainmaking, an almost forgotten art that has a very long history.
The company’s incredibly rich history starts with Emil Mössner, who became a master goldsmith in 1949. Before starting his own atelier in the summer of 1955, he worked as a goldsmith and chain-maker for other jewellery companies. “Back at that time, there were only farmers in our village, but my grandfather started a workshop called Emil Mössner Goldwaren in a tiny room he rented in the middle of the village,” says Alexandre Mössner, Emil’s grandson and the brand manager at IsabelleFa. With a small but mighty team of two other goldsmiths, he specialized in the intricacies of chain-making. “The demand for his chains was huge, so he became quite popular and, after building a bigger operation in 1963, he had a big team of goldsmiths, chain-makers, craftsmen, polishers and others,” says Alexandre.
“ANYONE CAN RECOGNIZE AN ICONIC, VOLUMINOUS ISABELLEFA PIECE.”
Fast-forward many successful years, and Emil had a son, Hans-Georg, who took over the business in the 1980s. He was joined in 1987 by his wife, Isabelle (nee Fagnoul). “They got to know each other at goldsmith school in 1982. Together, they took over the business.” A rebranding of IsabelleFa followed, including renaming the business after Isabelle. “My parents recognized there were huge changes going on in the jewellery industry. The changes were almost all about production — most manufacturers or ateliers became jewellery factories, concentrating on mass production,” explains Alexandre. But for Hans-Georg and Isabelle, it wasn’t about producing faster and cheaper. “It was clear that producing this way had a big influence on the quality , longevity and exclusivity of pieces. Also, there were a lot of types of chains, designs and models that the machines were not able to produce, so most of the companies lost the know-how for specific chains and other jewellery pieces,” he says. Hans-Georg and Isabelle were true visionaries. Alexandre says they saw potential in staying with the traditional chain-making methods. “They recognized that traditional production methods were particularly well-suited for voluminous pieces of jewellery. For several weeks, sometimes even months, every step of the manufacturing process is carried out by a master of his craft . Thanks to these classical techniques, flawless surfaces could also be created in large formats and on a level of quality far surpassing what mechanical production processes can achieve. That’s the reason anyone can recognize an iconic, voluminous IsabelleFa piece.”
Today, there are a plethora of iconic pieces the company has created, such as the Navette chain, the ChaCha, Grace, Altesse, as well as the Lyrique and Prestige. Their innovative bangles and collars in the Flix.Flex collection delight jewellery lovers worldwide because they are flexible and made from 18-karat-gold only. “You can clearly see the strong signature every piece has. Even if some jewellery pieces are more classic, some others are more playful, all pieces have something very strong in common. The reason for this is, of course, the craftsmanship that was used to create every single piece,” Alexandre says proudly. He says he and his brother, Patrick, a goldsmith, are now the third generation in the company. Both are dedicated to preserving the older, more time-honoured ways of jewellery-making that made their grandfather and parents such successes. “For us, as long as we stay true to our DNA and the traditional craftsmanship, each piece will have this typical IsabelleFa look and wears our signature. And we can assure that the possibilities are almost endless.” For more information on IsabelleFa’s unique and spectacular pieces, visit isabellefa.com and knar.com.