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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.
Watch John Hardy's 8 Step Process:
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."
What Does JH 925 Mean On a Ring?
JH 925 has a specific meaning on a ring. The JH stands for John Hardy, so you know the piece is authentic. The 925 indicates that the ring contains 92.5% silver, with the remaining 7.5% being other alloys or a metal such as copper. If the purest form (that is 100%) of silver were to be used, it would be too delicate for jewelry making. It must be combined with other metals to create jewelry that will withstand everyday wear and tear. Copper is the usual metal used to make up the 7.5%, but sometimes zinc or nickel are used.
- Sterling silver
- Mixed metals
- Sapphires (black and blue)
- Lapis lazuli
- Tiger’s eye
- Tourmaline (green and pink)
- Garnet (pink and purple)
Does John Hardy Jewelry Tarnish?
John Hardy silver jewelry is made with 92% sterling silver with an alloy such as copper or zinc making up the 7.5% difference. Your jewelry may tarnish over time, yes, but it is because of the chemical reaction to moisture in your skin and the alloys in the metal. Copper tends to be the easiest alloy on sensitive skin. If your jewelry has become tarnished, you can opt for a rhodium plating over the silver to provide a protective coating between your skin and the silver. To clean your jewelry, John Hardy recommends using lukewarm water and a mild dish detergent. Gently brush the piece and pat dry to avoid oxidation.
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.
Does John Hardy Jewelry Keep Its Value?
Since 1975, Bali based John Hardy has become a recognized designer of Asian influenced, socially conscious jewelry. Their pieces are hand-crafted, using sustainable and reclaimed materials in mixed media designs. The brand has found a niche with A-list celebrities and design aficionados alike and enjoys a strong following with many repeat buyers. Their products are always high quality, and on a par with other luxury brands. The company is on a mission to become the next global luxury brand - and they are clearly on their way to succeeding. For all these reasons, we believe John Hardy jewelry will maintain its value going forward.
Why Is John Hardy Jewelry So Expensive?
John Hardy jewelry is made of 100 percent re-cycled silver and re-purposed gold, maintaining its mission to create sustainable, beautiful pieces. The company employs the same traditional methods that have been used on the Indonesian island of Bali for centuries. Their jewelry is hand-crafted using the same techniques used by the craftsmen working for ancient Balinese royalty, and its intricate design is not a cheap process. However, there are John Hardy pieces to suit any budget – from $125 for a ring from the Bamboo Collection to many thousands of dollars for a limited-edition Heritage Naga cuff bracelet, and all price points in between.
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.
John Hardy Look-Alikes
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but John Hardy’s success as a brand has attracted so many look-alikes, it is sometimes difficult to tell the real thing from a fake. Whilst many pieces are labelled as a “John Hardy Look-Alike” it is clear that many ‘would-be’ companies are trying to jump on the John Hardy bandwagon for an easy ride. The best way not to be duped is to check the specific hallmarks and signature markings for authentic John Hardy pieces. Hallmarks for real pieces include “JH,” “J” engraved through the “H,” “Hardy,” “John Hardy.” Some pieces were also signed “GB,” which is the name of the designer, Guy Bedarida. Sterling silver pieces will have the ‘925’ stamp and gold will have “18k”
David Yurman vs John Hardy
Which is the best? The answer will lie in your own particular preference. John Hardy is a luxury, Balinese inspired, sustainable brand which is suitable for both men and women. They are famous for their classic chain bracelets, available in many different styles and made with exquisite attention to detail.
David Yurman’s jewelry is more traditional and is well-known for its cable bracelet and use of diamonds in silver. David Yurman jewelry probably has better resale value than John Hardy as it is the better-known brand. Yurman jewelry tends to be pricier, while Hardy jewelry is unique, less expensive and with bolder designs.
Truth be told, you can’t go far wrong with either of them.