Design of the Times: Forge & Foundry

Forge & Foundry got its name as a tribute to the humble beginnings of the fine jewelry we wear, and some of the techniques used are the same methods that peoples of the iron age used to create their own adornments. Each piece is handmade in New York City.

Susan Mancuso, Forge & Foundry’s designer, finds inspiration in nature, creating beautiful jewelry from the earth’s elements by using hammers, carving tools and fire. Mancuso combines contemporary and historical designs with ancient jewelry techniques to form the unique offerings of Forge & Foundry, which we are excited to have at JCK Tucson 2019!

We caught up with Mancuso to learn more about her journey in the jewelry industry, her inspiration, what she’s looking forward to at JCK Tucson 2019 and more:

How did your journey in the jewelry industry begin?
It probably began at a museum. Seeing exhibits of pre-Columbian, ancient Greek, Roman, Celtic Byzantine, or Filipino jewels was amazing to me. Jewelry was universal and ancient, adornment was a common thread across cultures and millennia. I wanted to bring to play a part in adorning the human body with beauty and magnificence – in my humble way – and to pay tribute to our forbears in the human tradition of jewelry making.

What was the initial inspiration for your brand?
It was the aesthetics, the materials, the craftsmanship and ingenuity of ancient metalsmiths. Using high karat gold, silver and other metal forged into amazing designs using the most rudimentary of tools and yet achieving works that rival what we now make with the aid of all our technology. I wanted to make pieces that serve as a tribute to those early artists.

What else inspires you when designing?
Nature, naturally. Sacred geometry. Motion. Trying to capture some that is ephemeral, like the water rippling down a hillside, or smoky mist currents.

Can you give us an idea of your design process?
I draw, draw, draw, tossing out probably 15 designs for each one I save.  I may start with a stone I love or a motif I love. And then there are the practical elements.  Will the earring fall just right?  Will it be too heavy?  How will the stones reflect the light?  Do the jewelry pieces work together? How will the piece move when the wearer walks or turns her head?

Each Forge & Foundry piece is handmade in New York using ancient techniques including bending, hammering and other manipulation of precious metal, as well as hand wax carving. How long does it typically take to create a piece of jewelry? 3  to 15 days.

How would you describe your brand using only three words? 
Ancient beauty re-imagined.

Are you partial to any particular stones or hues?
I love colored gemstones. Rubies, emeralds, sapphires, I love them all.

What do you think sets your jewelry apart from other companies that specialize in fine jewelry?
I work in mostly 22k gold. My work is all yellow gold.  While I want my clients to feel comfortable wearing my work in our contemporary world with contemporary clothes, I don’t design my work to fit in with the trend of the moment.

How would you describe your target audience?
My target audience are those people who have established their foundation collection and are looking to acquire unique, high quality pieces.

What are you most looking forward to at JCK Tucson 2019?
The world of jewelry is an exciting and diverse place.  I am really looking forward to meeting new people that will be attending the show.

Any other fun plans in Tucson when you’re not exhibiting your designs?  
I’d love to go to the Sonoran Desert, eat some great Mexican food and hunt for gems (of course!)

Learn more about Forge & Foundry here.
View the full JCK Tucson 2019 Exhibitor Directory
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