Get to know some of your JCK Design Center designers!
By: Monica Stephenson, iDazzle
Every once in a while, I run across an image of jewelry and I think “Of course!” When your heart and brain just know you are connecting with a kindred spirit. Such was my reaction when I saw the work of Caitlin Royal of Garnish. I’m a foodie in the sense that I love to eat, and I also aspire to minimalism. So Caitlin’s singular approach to (deceptively) simple castings of herbs and food had me at “organic.” Precious. Infinitely wearable. This is jewelry for the soul.
I love the minimalist aesthetic of your castings and finished jewelry! Have you always had this aesthetic? What was the impetus to create jewelry with the inspiration of nature—and food?
I’ve always been drawn to jewelry that has small textural details. It feels very personal to notice delicate designs that aren’t obvious to everyone else. So when I started designing my own pieces, I wanted the natural textures to stand out but without taking over the minimalist aesthetic. The inspiration to work with food and herb materials was from my love of gardening. I haven’t been able to do it as much since I’ve lived in NY, so I’d really cherish whenever I had fresh herbs in the kitchen. Also, my boyfriend is a cocktail enthusiast and would cut citrus rinds in interesting ways, which got me thinking about how to preserve or mold them. Garnish just grew organically from those ideas (pun intended)!
What has been the biggest challenge for your jewelry business so far?
It’s been a big learning curve working with natural materials. At first I tried to cast directly from the fresh herbs and spices, but inevitably there were issues with the metal. So I now mold everything and cast from wax, but the tiny textures and shapes are hard to preserve.
Your favorite achievement so far in your jewelry adventure?
It’s hard to say because I still feel so excited at every new milestone! Quite a few customers have ordered custom pieces to use as wedding bands, and my favorite was an order from a chef to use my dried orange peel ring as her wedding band. She was the exact kind of customer I had in mind when designing my line, and I was so happy to make something special for her.
Is this your jewelry trade show debut? Why JCK Design Center?
I participated in this past NY Now February show as am emerging artist, and it exceeded my expectations. I’m really excited to showcase new pieces at JCK and see how the buyers react to my line. It’s the perfect show to introduce my new wedding collection of engagement rings and gemstone pieces. JCK seems to have a reputation in the industry of showing the best in fine jewelry design and appealing to higher end markets.
What’s on your bench right now?
I’ve been working on a new engagement ring design that’s from my rosemary band, but I attached a hollow clove as the diamond setting. I’m also working on some lavender leaf designs, I love the way the leaves have frayed edges.
Eduardo Sanchez “discovered” coins while studying art in Italy. Surrounded by history, he was inspired to create modern jewelry around ancient coins. This love and embrace of past cultures and aesthetic eventually led to a greater appreciation of the distinct culture of his native Mexico. Eduardo is excited to share his memorable jewelry—including a very special pair of earrings—with the JCK community!
You started with coins, many of them ancient Italian, French and Mexican. Do they still hold fascination for you? How do you take something so traditional and make it fresh?
I started working with coins when I was just an art student in Italy. The beauty and the history behind them have always been intriguing to me. I travel a lot and I am on a constant quest for new coins to catch my eye. The challenge is always to design elegant and wearable pieces that can display both the secret meaning of the coin and the personality of the person who will be wearing the jewelry. I love turning such a traditional common object that we use every day, a coin, into a jewelry piece that will surprise and get everyone’s attention. Most of my pieces are unique designs in order to showcase the singular beauty of the link I create between the past and the present.
What is your current direction—what are you excited about?
I am very excited about the Fire Opal Collection. Mexican fire opals are very rare and very fragile stones to work with. What makes them beautiful is the range of color they can have and the mesmerizing rainbow hues trapped in the stone. My job is to show the world how impressive those gems are when artistically displayed, and place Mexico at the front of the international jewelry scene.
You are clearly inspired by history in beautiful objects; this inspiration really shines through in your collections. Is there something that inspires you from traditional Mexican culture?
It is actually quite paradoxical but I became really fascinated by my own culture and its richness while I was in Italy, homesick. Being away from home and comparing the ancient Roman History with our Mayan heritage showed me the depth of their legacy in everyday Mexico. I designed the Querencia collection for Mexico. Querencia in Spanish is a word that cannot be translated into English, it is a feeling, it is the love you feel for your home. Upon my return to Mexico, I started traveling more and more. I created the Zama collection inspired by my awe for the Mayan legend of the Quetzalcoatl, still alive today in some remote lands of the Quintana Roo region.
What kind of retail partner are you hoping to connect with at JCK Las Vegas?
I am looking for high-end boutiques and stores who understand and respect what it means to be a passionate designer. I want to mesmerize the world with the mysteries and stories of the coins and gems I delicately pair to give life to modern and versatile pieces of jewelry.
What are you excited to unveil at JCK?
Honestly, as it is my first time at the JCK, I am excited about everything! But I have to confess I do have one piece in particular that I can’t wait to present and to hear what professionals say about it. I hope to make their eye sparkle like kids again. I designed a pair of earrings with Mexican gold coins representing our angel of Liberty and dangling down is the most beautiful transparent opal set only in the top. This pair of earrings is about freedom. I created this design to challenge the materials I work with. My only limitation has to be my own mind. As artists, our creative process needs to be without boundaries, completely free of the laws of physics. This is why this particular design is so important to me, it is an invitation for everyone to be free and fearless.
Anatoli’s story began on a Greek island, and wound its way through Switzerland, Italy, and Turkey eventually landing in the UnitedStates. All of this history and travel has woven its way into Anatoli jewelry design: a fresh twist on byzantine, using finely wrought sterling silver, karat gold, pearls and gems. At its heart, Anatoli embraces and celebrates an old world craftsmanship that is translated into a modern aesthetic. Intricate details, hand made chain, and layers of texture result in a truly distinctive aesthetic.
What was it about the Turkish jewelry design that so captivated you both in the beginning?
Actually, we never focused on Turkish jewelry design. We entered the jewelry world in 1984 when I worked for a few months with an Italian company that bought and sold stones and jewelry between Italy, Greece, and Turkey, where I worked with a family of Armenian goldsmiths. Kostas and I chose to continue working with jewelry as students in Europe, where we found an expression for our passions in art, history, and architecture. A Greek and an American, we worked most closely in the beginning with that same Armenian production, and sold our work in Italy and Switzerland where we lived. Kostas chose to do his architectural thesis in Istanbul. However, what is associated now with “Turkish jewelry” did not exist there then. We just took no steps to protect our designs. We learned early and the hard way how quickly successful looks are adopted by others. Since 2001 we have been producing about 75% of our collection in house, at our studio in Woodstock, NY. We also continue to work with Turkey, Italy, and Thailand on pieces that are not economically feasible to create in-house.
Your collection debuted in the US in the late 1980’s. Your collection is very classic, but I’m curious how your designs have changed or evolved since then?
Our earliest collections were distinct, each inspired by a specific culture and period of history. These collections met with equal success in the fine and fashion jewelry worlds as they did in the museum world, which we continue to do product development for. Over the years we developed what is considered to be our own unique style and aesthetic that drew from years of appreciation for detail but transcended the historical context. Our signature look continues to incorporate fluid chain work, textures, and contrasts of silver and gold. We have since enhanced our offerings with high-quality custom-cut gemstones, diamonds, pearls, and One-of-A-Kinds. We enjoy interpreting color trends in our own way.
Gems or metal? Does your work start with one or the other?
This is an interesting question, and I wish I could give you an easy answer! In truth it depends on what our inspiration of the moment is. When we get excited about a weave, or a texture, it starts with the metal. When we discover a gorgeous cache of high-quality new gemstones or pearls, or a cool new stone cut – then it starts with the stones – and we design the treatment that will best showcase them. When we were commissioned by the NY Museum of Modern Art and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to create a licensed collection, the assignment was with no stones. We can easily go both ways.
How do you keep the process fresh? What continues to inspire or excite you?
We have so many more collections in mind than we can possibly bring to market in one year, so we are always raring to get on to the next one! We are never bored. Our problem is always deciding and agreeing on which one to do next.
What kind of collector enjoys your work?
We are very touched and humbled by the frequent, beautiful feedback that we get from Anatoli jewelry collectors. The common thread seems to be their appreciation of subtle details that we use in our work, which makes the jewelry more special for them.