For this issue, we sat down over a glass of wine and some tapas to chat to Jorge Chamizo, a Spanish jewellery expert and designer who has lived and worked all over the world. Currently residing in Melbourne and working on a series of Georgian inspired jewels, Jorge has a passion for discovering and sharing one-of-a-kind pieces.
You’ve lived in Spain, New York, and Hong Kong, have just returned from the USA, and are heading overseas again in three days’ time; how have your travels inspired your jewellery tastes and designs?
Travelling, finding, and sharing pieces with clients is the lifestyle I have chosen to live. I’m very curious by nature. I like the more casual approach to jewellery that Americans and Australians have, and I love the deep appreciation for craftsmanship and rarity from my Asian clients. I try to combine both concepts and offer fine, collectable pieces that one can also enjoy wearing.
What do you love about antique and vintage jewellery?
We use jewels to adorn and also to express ourselves; I believe that vintage and antique jewels tell a story about their context in history, but also about their keepers and wearers. With so much craft and knowledge lost in modern times, I love the sense of rarity and how irreplaceable these little works of wearable art can be.
Your recent work has incorporated miniature painted eyes reminiscent of 18th century “Lover’s eye” pieces. It’s a relatively little-known but fascinating trend of Georgian jewellery design, could you tell us about it and why you were drawn to it?
Originally, these pieces were given as a token of love, until we could see each other again – your lover watching over you while spending time apart. I am always attracted to the sentimental aspect and the language of jewellery. These pieces carry and express strong feelings of love, joy, and remembrance. I met the amazing portrait artist Robyn Rich through a common friend soon after moving to Melbourne, just before the pandemic. We did not even meet in person for quite a long time, which brought even more sentiment to this project. We made each piece remotely. People would send us a picture of their loved one’s eye, Robyn would paint the portrait, and my workshop would make the jewels that framed it. It is a project that gave me so much joy in times when we were all apart. I cherish Robyn’s work and each piece we made together.
Lover’s eyes, acrostic charm bracelets, locks of hair encased in gold; antique jewellery seems so much more romantic and sentimental than the designs of today. How do you think the role of jewellery has changed, or stayed the same, since those days?
I think the expressions of love, celebrations, and memories created when acquiring a jewel remain the same. Sentimental jewellery might be a “niche” market but in the end, it is an expression of the same human feeling. Today’s diamond engagement rings are yesteryear’s lover’s eyes brooches; an expression of love and commitment, perhaps even expressed in a more poetic way.
Some of your work involves transforming antique pieces into new jewels that can be worn different ways, like the lariat you’re fashioning a clasp for out of a mid-century Sputnik ring, or the lacquer bangles that offer another way to wear Art Deco double clip brooches. What inspires these transformations?
I love jewellery on the body. Wearable jewels. Sometimes a brooch can be elevated into a more wearable piece by incorporating it onto a bangle, it adds so much more flexibility. This idea is nothing new, it has been done for centuries, adapting old styles to new times. I really enjoy this process. I treat every component as I did when I was making important diamond rings in NYC. I work with artisans that understand how to “mount” or transform these elements into an entirely new jewel. I can’t wait to show you the finished 1970s lariat necklace with the 1950s sputnik clasp.
What’s one antique jewellery look that you’d love to see back in fashion today?
I am enjoying the current tastes for unique vintage jewels of any period, as opposed to the more minimalist and cleaner look of the 1990s. For instance, I love how modern women wear bold ‘60s and ‘70s gold pieces and not just the more classic “pretty diamond jewels”. I like bold looks – jewellery with an impact.
See more of Jorge’s work at @artsinternational.inc and follow Robyn at @robynrichartist on Instagram.
Banner and Images Above: Jorge at home with some of his jewellery designs, including lover’s eye pieces created with miniature painter Robyn Rich.