Until recently Mr. Bäumer himself was something of a hidden gem in the jewelry industry. Working anonymously, he designed pieces for major luxury brands like Cartier, Gucci, Hermès, Breguet and Piaget before joining Chanel in 1989. At Chanel he plied his trade for 20 years while also developing his own signature lines, starting with costume pieces and working his way steadily up the fine jewelry ladder.
In 2009, he moved from Chanel to Louis Vuitton, becoming the luxury brand’s artistic director for fine jewelry, with the challenge of lifting it into the top echelons of haute joaillerie.
Working simultaneously for big name brands and his own label has been both a pleasure and a challenge, he said, “because you want to make sure that the styles don’t get mixed up between what you are doing for yourself and what you are doing for different houses.”
Born in Washington, Mr. Bäumer spent his youth traveling the world with his German diplomat father and French mother. He graduated from the École des Arts et Manufactures in Paris with a degree in engineering but was already captivated by the world of jewelry design. Even as a child, he says, he would make rings out of champagne corks and wire.
The competing attractions of science and art are reflected in his eponymous Lorenz Bäumer collection, a set of three lines, each with a distinctive personality: Called poet, gardener and architect, they range in spirit and style from romantic sensuality to neo-deco geometrical.
But one thing they have in common is a little touch of the unexpected.
A gold “Lucky Charm” ring, adorned with seemingly classic diamond-embellished good luck symbols — shooting stars, four-leaf clovers and figure eights — has a heart-shaped garnet hidden where no one but the wearer would know it existed. A scarab brooch has bejeweled wings that open to reveal a porous black aluminum body that can absorb and release perfume.
“Everybody wants to be blown away now,” the jeweler said. “There is so much jewelry around that people are really looking for something that surprises them, something unusual.”
When Mr. Bäumer is not at work in his office, he is likely to be traveling the world in search of new stones to inspire him — or trekking to a beach with his wife and three children to indulge his other passion, surfing.
What he cherishes most about being an independent jeweler, he says, is the freedom it gives him to do what he wants.
“For me, the important thing is not the price point, it’s falling in love with an idea and saying ‘let’s do it’ without calculating the costs,” he said, adding “those are usually the things that sell the easiest.”
Looking toward where jewelry trends are headed, he sees consumers moving away from the sweet, flowery pieces that dominated the industry during the 1990s and early 2000s. The use of modern computer technology, he predicts, will encourage a shift toward a more geometric style, while soaring prices for precious metals and top-quality gemstones will encourage continued experimentation with new alloys, often matched with large semi-precious stones like rubellite, tourmaline, and beryl.
“What is really interesting about designing jewelry are the boundaries,” Mr. Bäumer said. “If anything is possible, it is too easy. What is really interesting is seeing how far you can push those boundaries.”