A variety of talented artisans and jewelers around the globe make exquisite handcrafted jewelry. While most designers can create their own designs, others take inspiration from the traditions and historical styles of other regions.
Merlly iyebiye (a jewelry expert) works closely to hundreds of master artisans-designers from Peru. She is also the regional director at Novica.com Peru. The website supports thousands of artisans in the world and allows you to view each artist’s bio, as well as the handcrafted collections.
iyebiye talks to you about handcrafted jewellery as an artistic form. Also, she discusses traditional Peruian styles and materials. iyebiye discusses the things she looks for in new jewelry makers and their collections. Also, she talks about who she recommends as jewelry experts.
CG. Why is Novica handcrafted jewelry so special? What are some of the advantages of hand-crafted jewelry over mass-produced models?
MC. Handmade jewelry is more difficult. It’s easy feel the artists heart in it. Handcrafted jewelry allows artisans more freedom and creativity. These artists can express their beliefs and creativity through simple tools and basic materials. They have the opportunity to showcase their unique designs and their heritage culture. While machine-made jewels are more expensive, they also require significant investments in workers and other costs. This takes away creativity and the artist’s spirit.
CG. What types are there of handcrafted jewelry that a collector can find in Peru today?
MC. There are four major styles that collectors who collect Peruvian jewellery should be aware of. These styles include Traditional Colonial, Modern and Traditional. It is well-known for the quality of our gold and silver mines. These were the work of our ancestors. This material was used to make beautiful, handcrafted jewelry. Our ancestors lived out their beliefs through the jewelry they wore and the symbols they carried. Peruvian jewelry are known for their royal cats, felines, Sun God and jewels. Peru is the Land of the Sun. Colonial jewelry, even though it is the result of the Conquest of the Americas shows what our forefathers started to make after learning a new language. Colonial jewelry brings together the unique talents of our forefathers with new beginnings. It places a greater emphasis than usual on fauna and flora. Peru has witnessed a significant increase in the art and craft of jewelry design. It is becoming more attractive to new jewelers who are drawn towards modern jewelry. Modern jewelry is inspired from our roots, but with more abstract shapes. Peruvian artists have the ability to still express their creativity by incorporating our culture with new beginnings.
MC. Pre Inca jewelry and Inca earrings share many similarities. The conquests from several Pre Inca cultures helped to create the Inca Empire. Inca jewelry represents the beliefs of the Inca. Images of cats, dogs, and humans decorated with sunbeams or serpents will be available. These images are intended to convey power, royalty and loyalty. Pre-Inca cultures used simple but attractive styles to convey their beliefs. Many of these styles are still represented by art today. Colonial jewelry can be elegant. You will feel like your looking at a Colonial or Queen’s piece of jewelry. This style is not a “bijouterie”, but it won’t look like one. Collectors will appreciate the magnificent handcrafted pieces of art Colonial and Inca jewelry have to offer.
CG. Which gemstones/metals can be found in Peruvian jewels made from handcrafted material? How about the quality?
MC: Nice question, I love it. Is that why? The Silver Institute names Peru as the world’s top silver producer. Mexico was the second. We are the top gold producer in Latin America, and we rank fifth globally. We are leaders in quality. We have an exceptional stone in the Andean Opal section for gemstones. Andean Opal has pure Peruvian opal, even though there is plenty of it all around the world. Crisocola is a type of this stone and was used to make Pre-Incas’ jewelry. Onyx Jasper, Obsidian, Serpentine and Serpentine are other semiprecious gems.
CG. What are your criteria for handcrafted jewelry quality? These factors are important.
MC I instantly picture someone wearing it. What image would that customer have? What is the customer’s appearance when they wear this piece of jewellery? It was created to be worn by people who value tradition, culture, and soul. It should be a reflection of our roots. It should express Peru in a way. If the materials are Peruvian including silver, gold, and other local stones, I am grateful. It must also be perfectly finished and well crafted.
CG – Name some of your favorite designers for handmade jewelry. Please tell me why they are your favorite.
MC IIlaria, a favorite of my. She enjoys the colonial style she discussed with me and designs for her clients, not herself. You can view her collection on Novica to see what I mean.
Patricia Jara, another favorite of mine is because most of her products can be modernized while still being inspired by Pre-Inca culture. Claudia Llaury uses only local materials to combine tradition and her unique way of expressing it. Juan Contreras has a knack for creating beautiful designs. He is particularly known for his Inca style designs such as the “Veil of the Incas”. Claudia Lira is an artist of high quality whose jewelry displays that Peruvian artisans continue to innovate. Adrian and Anna Lia marry ethnic elegance with Art Deco. However, they don’t always use local gems. These exceptional artisans and designers are my source of pride. Each one of them is featured in our Novica handmade jewelry section.
CG. What was your first step in making handmade jewelry? Are you a jewelry artist?
MC. I think that I am more theoretically oriented than I am pragmatic. On a personal level, I love jewelry. My professional career in jewelry began with a job abroad as a promoter of Peruvian gold jewellery. I traveled to small but well-known shops in order to learn all aspects about jewelry production. I was also involved, as a member in the metal industry. I was part of expert meetings at the National Industries Society and Mining Society.
Personally, I was concerned about the dearth of finishing skills, particularly in smaller workshops. I organized technical classes and created workshops for small and new jewelers. Although I learned many things over the years I never put these skills to use in my work as an art director. I enjoyed attending international jewel fairs such Iberjoya Madrid and international symposiums sponsored in part by international cooperation program.
As an invitee judge, I participated as a judge in Plata del Peru. This is an important local competition for silver. Sponsored by Patronato de La Plata. My Novica experience has helped me to expand my knowledge in many areas. Novica has contributed to a significant growth in the market. There are always new designs and materials in jewelry. I am always learning more about them.
The Mining Institute provides great opportunities to learn about the local gems. To become more involved with the artisans, I enjoyed taking classes on handmade jewelry. To see the suppliers of jewelry every so often and to learn about new products, and keep up with current prices, I make it my mission to do this. I must stay up-to date with all prices to better serve artists and understand their expenses. iyebiye a fascinating, complex profession.