John Hatleberg

Gems are primal, living, vital and seductive

Whether painting, making sculpture or jewelry, Hatleberg has spent thirty years trying to create jewels that approach the power of engagement rings. One of his favorite engagement rings is made out of a lightning bolt — when lightning hits sand it fuses into a variety of quartz named lacherterite in a form called fulgurite. The couple liked the allusion that they would be wearing the harnessed power of lightning to represent their love.

Halteberg's private client jewelry has been featured in Vogue, Paris Vogue, W, Elle, Town and Country, The New Yorker, and on the cover of Vanity Fair. Hatleberg is featured in Christie's book "Twentieth Century Jewelry" for his role as an artist jeweler.

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Pearl Ring
Golden pearl with diamonds and seed
pearl melee in 18 kt yellow gold

Green Lantern Ring
Kitchen sink of jewels in 18 kt
yellow gold

Gold Body Gems
Pure gold

Gold Body Gems are pure gold temporary tattoos often lasered in the guise of famous diamonds. They work beautifully on chocolate, on walls as a specialized faux finish and on skin. I like the idea of jewelry that not only moves with the skin, but moves as skin. Stretches as skin. This is a preparatory photo for work I did with Playboy in New York and Jamaica.

Heart Pearl
Keshi pearl necklace with
18 kt white gold and hair

All of my work is the same piece. Close-up this pearl is uncanny in its similarity to an anatomical heart—with aorta, suggestion of pulmonary vein, wrinkles on the muscles. One of the first people I showed this pearl to sensed it beating. As a talisman, it is perfect for a woman to have this pearl heart beating over her own. If gems are not about life than they do not matter. For me, this pearl is what jewelry strives for.

C&W Ring
Diamond with pink diamond
melee in platinum ring

Opal Ring
Mexican fire opal in 22 kt gold

Amethyst, sapphire, diamond
and egg shell
My friend Ben approached me to create an heirloom for his wife and their two young daughters. The resulting ChartGem is made up of symbols representing their family. I chose birthstones of the parents, amethyst and sapphire, and used them for the materials of the ChartGem. The faceting design of the ChartGem is based on the star charts of the two daughters. Star Charts are generated by recording the minute a person is born along with the longitude and latitude of where they are born. From this an astrologist can discern what is happening between the planets, the heavens, from that place in time.
Once this is generated one can predct portions or proclivities of a person’s life. The ChartGem is therefore encoded. I like to use a fictional example that from the ChartGem an astrologist may discern that the younger daughter, Anita, will grow up and discover new varieties of arachnids in the Amazon. A goal of the ChartGem was to create a gem that was made for my client and no one else. Additionally, I wanted to provide a jewel for Ben to give to Audrey with a specific function.
We store our emotions in jewels. We project our sentiments into them to turn over, mull over, as we turn over the jewels themselves. I envision Audrey—when Rebecca gets her driver’s license, when Rebecca goes off to college, when Anita goes to the Amazon—taking her gem and turning it over and over as she turns her thoughts. The ChartGem is a gem of projections. It is a crystal ball of comfort.
Moldavite and Pearl Pin
Moldavite with South Sea, keshi
and seed pearl on 18 kt gold and foil