Valuable jewellery items made from compressed vines

11.11.2021 Looking at the rough, fibrous wood of an old vine, it is hard to imagine it being transformed into high-quality jewellery, but that is precisely what Grégoire Maret, a jeweller from Valais, has managed to achieve. He is receiving support from researchers at the Institute for Materials and Wood Technology IWH at Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH.

IWH has been conducting research into making wood harder and more resilient and durable for some time. A two-stage process has proven highly successful. To begin with, the wood is impregnated with a synthetic, thermosetting compound and then compressed using high pressure and heat. Jeweller Grégoire Maret found out about this process and saw an opportunity to turn his idea of making valuable jewellery from old vines into reality. This is how the collaboration between the researchers and the jewellery-maker began.

At the lab in Biel, the researchers used a number of impregnation methods on the vine wood and varied the level of pressure and heat. They then sent the blocks produced by the process back to Maret, who tested them at his studio in Fully to determine which would be most suitable for jewellery-making.

The items of jewellery created are extremely attractive but also convey a deeper meaning by giving new value to a waste product and adding an extra dimension to the culture of winegrowing.

In a next step, the research team from IWH aims to find a bio-based alternative to the synthetic thermosetting compound to support BFH’s vision of promoting the circular economy by reusing waste, improving product traceability and opting for the most eco-friendly materials.

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