Do you know what granulation is? I had an idea, but I didn’t truly understand what it was until I met Jack and Elizabeth Gualtiere of Zaffiro at the Couture show. Granulation is an ancient goldsmithing technique which is, “…a decorative process that consists of applying minute spheres of gold to a surface of similar gold alloy and then heating the entire piece to a temperature high enough to form a permanent bond between the surface and the spheres.” Impressive, right? Take a look at this pair of earrings. As described by Elizabeth, “These are our one-of-a-kind classic “Fern Curl” earrings that are set with amethyst briolettes and teal diamonds in granulated 22kt yellow gold, with 18kt yellow gold posts.”
Being a fan of all shades of aqua, I was immediately drawn to the hue of this necklace in their case. The pendant is the surface skin of an aquamarine, which is very reminiscent of Roman Glass. It’s basically what the stone looks like when it comes out of the ground. J’Adore.
Jack and Elizabeth originally discovered Etruscan granulation while on a study abroad program during college. They began working together 22+ years ago, and they were friends before the whole dating/marriage thing. (Love that!) They live and work in Portland, Oregon, where each piece is completely hand-crafted. I thought it was so interesting that they consult on each others’ designs, yet each one makes their own pieces from start to finish. Apparently Jack is more drawn to architectural, geometric designs, while Elizabeth gravitates towards curves. Though through it all, granulation is the core, common thread.
These two pendants begged to be tried on, and who am I to ignore jewelry saying, “Hello, Amy!” These are Anglo Saxon bronzes from the 6th Century, which were dug up in London. They truly take “one-of-a-kind” jewelry to the next level!
While 22K gold is their main medium, they have also added oxidized silver to their repertoire. Their Etrusco group showcases their metal work, alongside colorful gems.
The cuffs in this series blew me away, Here’s one I tried on at the show.
And here’s another design from the same collection they recently posted on social media. The main stone is Australian boulder opal, accented with teal and white diamonds.
These “nebula” cuffs, part of the Etrusco series, are, “..inspired by the imagery of distant constellations, points of light against a dark universe, and the harmony of seemingly randomly arranged objects..” I completely see it, don’t you?
While speaking with Jack and Elizabeth, I couldn’t help but notice the color of this bracelet, as it wasn’t rose gold, yet I couldn’t quite nail down what I was looking at. It is apparently a new patina they’ve been working on called the “orchid patina.” It’s still in the experimental stages, and they have yet to achieve the color on gold. I would not be surprised if this has now been accomplished.
I was e-mailing with Elizabeth this week, and she shared this image of a new necklace, most definitely fit for a princess! It is a one-of-a-kind Etrusco pendant, set with a tanzanite cabochon, purple sapphires, teal diamonds and a mint green tourmaline in 22kt yellow gold, with forged and oxidized sterling silver. They truly have a gift with color.
If you’d like to take a closer look into the intensely complex process of making a custom piece, then you’ll most certainly enjoy this 4 minute video. I know I did!
I likely took up a bit too much time asking a million questions of this dynamic design duo, but I truly appreciated every moment of it. I am very excited to see their most current designs at Couture again this year!
Thanks for the great response to my “Observations on Portland” article — so fun! And as I promised, here’s the follow-up post with the jewelry lo-down from the ‘hood. As I mentioned, one of the reasons I went there was to visit Twist. (This store is up in the 23rd Ave. area.) I’ve ordered from them online before, and I was so psyched to see the store in person. Not only was it much bigger than I had envisioned, but they carry items for the home as well. Who knew? The first case that magnetized me was filled with work by Judy Geib. This opal bracelet left me speechless. (There are so many times I wish I had a bottomless wallet…)
I was also fascinated with these crystal lockets from Loquet London. You can select from a vast variety of charms to put inside. Such a darling take on the charm theme!
These lovely studs by Suzanne Kalan with a black diamond halo “sparkled” my attention as well.
Oh, and you can’t help but be intrigued by the signage and light when leaving the store!
Only a couple blocks away on 23rd Ave., I visited Gilt. They specialize in both vintage and antique fine jewelry (on the main floor), and vintage costume jewelry and new items from local designers up on the second floor. It was brimming with customers, and I was told that Sundays are a BIG day for engagement ring shopping. (I’m always learning something new!) Given Portland’s eco-conscious attitude, I’m not surprised that vintage rings are a hot commodity. They have a very clever color-coded box system, and the color of box tells you what metal the ring is set in. Here’s a (very small) sampling of their fabulous selection.
They have a large collection of lockets and Native American jewelry as well.
I did make a little purchase here. It’s a necklace by Amira (a Portland artisan), made of woven nylon thread, glass beads, and brass. It definitely appeals to the boho girl in my soul, and I like the mixed metals. And I just haaad to take home some sort of souvenir, right?!
Walking back towards my hotel downtown, I stopped at Frances May on SW Washington St. They carry some of my favorite clothing designers, and they have a well-edited selection of modern jewelry as well. I liked this large statement necklace by Erin Considine.
During my exploration of the east side, I went to Altar, as recommended by my fashionable bartendress, Emily, from the previous evening. I may have missed this had I not been chatting with her. This establishment features “northwest alternative handmade” items, and it’s definitely worth a stop. This organic wall display of necklaces was awesome!
It turns out that the designer of this line (called Iron Oxide Designs) is Amy Fox, and she is part-owner of the store and was manning the front desk that day. Cool!
These necklaces by Fox Tail Jewelry are very industrial boho, and they fit in perfectly with the Portland aesthetic.
I unfortunately failed to note the designer of these tassel necklaces, but I love them!
While I tried to really pack in my shopping time during my two-day stay in Portland (and I certainly saw a lot!), these were my jewelry highlights. As you can see, there’s a real range in offerings. To be honest, I found more diversity in the jewelry than I did in fashion. Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour! And please let me know if you have a favorite spot to shop there as well. I always love hearing from you.