If you are looking for vintage John Hardy jewelry, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, materials, most collectible pieces, and where to buy.
John Hardy is luxury handmade jewelry created with respect for the environment and for all people. The pieces unite the mastery of the ancient jewelers who served Balinese kings with the most current designs and techniques.
Brief History of John Hardy Jewelry
John Hardy was born in 1949 in Toronto, Canada. He grew up in the small town of Cannington. His family owned a general store, and John worked there as a delivery boy. He went to the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto and left to see the world shortly after graduation. When he saw Bali, he knew he had found his “forever home.”
A master artisan, descended from generations of highly regarded goldsmiths, taught John the traditional techniques of jewelry making, including rantai (woven chain), tenun (woven mesh), jawan (granulation) and ukiran (cut work). To these ancient Balinese motifs, John incorporated modern design techniques. In 1975, he started John Hardy Jewelry, an artisan cooperative that produced handcrafted jewelry—the artisans passionate about their work, their environment and Balinese history, tradition and culture. It can take between 3 and 10 months to complete a piece. The brand combines luxury and environmentalism: All materials are acquired with a goal of maintaining a strict ethical approach to both the planet and its people.
In the early 1990s, Guy Bedarida joined the company as head designer and was part of the development of the John Hardy workshop and design center in the highlands of Bali. He also introduced the use of classical European jewelry techniques, motifs inspired by flora and fauna and ancient East Asian art styles. In 2003, Damien Dernoncourt joined the company as president and set out to grow the brand internationally, first in Hong Kong, then in Russia, Japan and Dubai. In 2007, Guy and Damien bought the business from John, while John and his wife Cynthia dedicated their time to building a more sustainable world—a cause that was always in the forefront of John’s business.
While John was growing his company, he implemented the “Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo” initiative. For every item purchased from the Bamboo Collection, a bamboo seedling is planted in Bali. He also developed a program called “Jobs For Life.” The company collaborates with local orphanages to pay for children’s last two years in high school and then provide them with an apprenticeship in jewel making.
In 2014, L Catterton Partners, a leading private equity firm, acquired John Hardy Jewelry.
John Hardy Jewelry Designers
Guy is an Italian-born French jewelry designer educated at the European Institute of Design and Communication in Rome where he majored in jewelry and fashion design. He started out working as a jewelry designer for Boucheron, then was head designer for Van Cleef and Arpels.
When Guy joined the John Hardy group, he directed a team of illustrators, wax-carvers, metal-smiths and stone-cutters that produced some of John Hardy’s best-selling collections, including one inspired by the mythological Naga.
Cynthia stopped in Bali on her way to a law degree and never looked back. She had been making jewelry since high school and so set up a small jewelry business there. She supported herself by turning seashells into earrings, applying the design knowledge learned in high school, and running an import-export company. After she and John met and married, they combined their businesses and together built John Hardy Jewelry.
- “J” engraved through the bar of the “H”
- “John Hardy” in script
- In addition, pieces may be signed “GB” when designed by Guy Bedarida and have “925” for sterling silver and 18K for gold.
- Inside of every piece in the Bamboo collection, there is a number that signifies how many Bamboo plants were planted as a result of that piece being made: "This planted 4 bamboo."
- Sterling silver
- Mixed metals
- Sapphires (black and blue)
- Lapis lazuli
- Tiger’s eye
- Tourmaline (green and pink)
- Garnet (pink and purple)
Notable Collectibles: Vintage John Hardy Jewelry
Vintage Necklace from before the 2000's. This necklace is from the Kali collection and is highly collectible.
Vintage item from the 1980's. A Leather cuff bracelet featuring a Macan Tiger Head in Sterling Silver with Swiss Blue Topaz Gemstone Eyes.
From John Hardy's Chain Collection. An eternity band with sizing bar, this ring features black sapphires set in sterling silver.
Tips for Buying Vintage John Hardy Jewelry
We have here a mini-lesson in John Hardy Jewelry designs. The designs are not only aesthetically pleasing, they are full of meaning. It’s gratifying, as well as valuable, to be able to “read” the designs when you are shopping.
- Bamboo is a tree-like grass that is known as “nature’s gift to mankind.” It symbolizes the bounty of the earth, and wearing one of this collection’s pieces is expressing gratitude for all that nature gives us.
- The Legends Collection includes the cobra, macan, naga and eagle.
- The cobra is a symbol of rebirth, transformation, renewal and endurance.
- The macan (Balinese for “tiger”) symbolizes courage, strength and passion. It is particularly suited to a person with an indomitable spirit.
- The naga is a mythological creature with the head of the dragon and the body of a serpent. It is a symbol of love, prosperity and protection.
- The eagle is a symbol of freedom and independence.
- The “back grill” is used on many of John’s pieces, particularly on cuffs. It is a “secret” design that appears only on the inside of a piece and usually tells a story. The design is etched into the metal so that the inside is as beautiful as the outside.
- Cuffs are given the most dramatic and acute interpretation of each motif and so symbolize power. Notice in ancient art that warriors and deities wear cuff-like adornments.
It’s quite an experience shopping for vintage John Hardy jewelry. There are many pieces that are, literally, breathtaking. Even if all you are doing is browsing, it’s fun as well as an education. For a great start, please see the Etsy John Hardy pages and the John Hardy selection on eBay.