Jewelry Tales from Faraway

From the heart of Reykjavik to New Caledonia, via Africa... The stories of three designers outline a new map of creativity, giving us a “jewelry vision” with ever-broader horizons

Designer Guðbjörg Kristín Ingvarsdóttir is the co-founder of Aurum, Iceland. Loan Favan is a young artist/designer, founder of Naula Studio, New Caledonia. Ismaila Rufai is a digital creator who makes handmade jewelry to keep African tribal traditions alive. We collected their stories to understand what it means to create jewelry in places far from the mainstream and how the digital connection can now be an advantage for enriching the world of jewelry with alternative and extremely progressive cultural influences.

64.9631° N, 19.0208° W

«I studied goldsmithing and jewelry design in Denmark, a country with an important history in design and this has meant a lot to me. Back in Iceland, I founded Aurum. Our country is truly beautiful but it has no deep-rooted tradition in jewelry, which made me feel free to invent my own style. I spend a lot of time working on concepts and ideas and I pay attention to every detail because I want each of my creations to convey a feeling or atmosphere that evokes the nature of my homeland. When I am in the studio at home, I live in a world of my own but, to grow as an artist, travel is essential for leaving the daily routine behind and getting a different perspective. We have dealers and customers in different countries, so I always try to stay connected with the international jewelry community. In Italy, for example, I have exhibited three times at Artistar Jewels: participating in similar events is a good way to compare ideas with other designers. As a company we have always been farsighted but we never lose touch with our Icelandic heritage, which is unique and lives on in our designs, in our flagship store, in our packaging, which is strictly based on eco-friendly production.»

New Caledonia
20.9043° S, 165.6180° E

«I am originally from New Caledonia, Pacific. We have always been used to being on the other side of the world. To follow my dream, I had to go abroad and study in Paris and the Netherlands. In New Caledonia, finding materials and making jewelry is difficult or, in any case, extremely expensive. There was therefore little hope for me to return home and establish my brand there. I moved to Bali, Indonesia, in order to be able to create freely and have easy access to resources. This island offers many opportunities in terms of production and it’s more dynamic and connected than New Caledonia: here I feel part of the world. However, for our generation (especially after Covid), where you live is not so important. Working remotely is a real possibility and most interactions are through social media: meetings between creatives take place on Instagram and Tik- Tok. I have collaborated with people who live in Germany, Estonia or New York, all digitally. There are no limits, the only thing to consider is the time “gap” depending on the time zone. Bali somehow attracts a lot of creative people, so we also have interesting collaborations and conversations here on the island. I don't feel far from the rest of the world, if anything, I feel like I have had the best of both worlds. An island lifestyle close to my roots and the chance to create and connect both physically and digitally. In the future, I hope to travel more to deepen my connection with the outside world.»

9.0820° N, 8.6753° E

«My name is Ismaila Rufai, I am 23 years old and a photographer with a passion for jewelry. I am from the north-central part of Nigeria but I live in Abuja, the capital, where I produce digital content and am trying to build my own brand, although it is not easy due to my finances. Jewelry is an integral part of African culture: ivory, bone, wood, shells, beads are the materials used to create impressive necklaces, belts, anklets, bracelets and headdresses, all handmade by the locals. For me, the jewelry of African culture is an art form. It adds spice to life, it gives elegance, it is indispensable for enhancing the wearer’s personality and, when used in the right way, it can tell a unique and beautiful story. That is why, together with a friend of mine, who is a skilled craftsman, we began to create handmade items using copper, cowry shells and other materials with the intention of keeping a tradition, so rich in culture and meaning, alive and somehow “fine tune” it to a contemporary aesthetic. I hope to soon enter the international jewelry market with my own creations. I and my team are working on it, but it is a slow process.»

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