Delve into the colours, textures and icons of Mexican-inspired jewels.
A flurry of designers are referencing the colours, textures and jewelled history of Mexico in fashion and fine jewellery as kitsch sugar skulls and boho bracelets become modern-day must-haves.
The vibrancy and colour of Mexico has long inspired jewellery designs, from hand-forged silver pieces set with fragments of turquoise through to a new wave of jewellers referencing Mexican symbols and design motifs in fine jewellery.
Just what is it about Mexico that is so inspiring for today’s jewellery designers? For Italian-born jeweller Amanda Marcucci it is all about the country’s culture, something she captured during time spent living in Austin, Texas, where she found herself surrounded by imported crystals and turquoise from Central America, and become captivated by the customs and beliefs of the Mayans.
"I simply love Mexico," she states. "I feel very drawn to the culture, colours, life. I hope to capture some of the vibrant colours, costume and culture in my jewellery, such as my Mexican Rosary range."
The collection in question features bright blue, yellow and pink rosary-style necklaces adorned with skull charms or tiny framed images of religious icons such as the Virgin Mary.
These wearable, pop-colour designs are echoed by the friendship bracelet brand Hipanema, which has taken humble woven bracelets and given them a fashion makeover with studs, crystals, seed beads, shells and tassels. The bracelets also feature smart magnetic clasps rather than string ties, giving them an instant luxe upgrade that takes them from Mexican market stall to boutique must-have. Hipanema – founded by two French friends who met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – has already won retail stockists in the UK including the likes of Charles Fish, Urban Outfitters and Not On the High Street.
Charles Fish marketing director Jane Paine explains: "There is a trend for jewellery that references far-flung destinations and ancient tribes – pieces that have home-made vibes, such as Hipanema’s mixed material bracelets. They’re great worn solo or stacked with other favourite bangles for a hint of hippy chic."
Charles Fish has used the bracelets and other pieces in its new marketing campaign, Summer Mix, which has broken new jewellery trends down into six themes, one of which it has called Tribal Texturing. "It features bright colour, beaded and embroidered jewellery," adds Paine.
British jeweller Anabel Campbell has created a collection of bright, geometric beaded cuffs and slimline beaded bangles with a Mexican vibe – a range that has won attention from Boticca, Wolf & Badger and Brighton’s Union Jewellery.
But the Mexican trend is not just about colour. Silver is the metal of Mexico and thus many brands have created contemporary silver designs with Central American connotations, featuring motifs such as tribal masks or shapes based on Mexican myths and symbolism.
The result is collections such as Voodoo by Lee Renee, which features stud earrings, rings and pendants depicting tribal masks set with gemstones.
Renee uses stones such as opal, which is native to certain parts of Mexico, as well as enamel to add dashes of colour. Her Erzulie Voodoo Enamel necklace is one such piece, boasting turquoise enamel and four opals, used for the stone’s mythical connotations.
ChloBo founder Chloe Moss spent time travelling across Mexico and Central America and similarly says it is the spirituality and religious iconography of the continent that has inspired her recent line of silver bracelets, with the themes translated into etched crucifix and angel charms.
Moss explains: "Catholicism remains very much the dominant religion in Mexico and this is reflected in iconography across the country depicting Jesus, saints or angels. These act as a source of inspiration for worshippers, so I found it fitting to use [these themes] as inspiration for my new collections."
This spirituality and ancient mythology is also echoed in the silver jewellery created by Dominique Lucas. Not only do her Venom rings hint at the shapes and carvings found on Mexico’s Mesoamerican pyramids, but her jewellery also references ancient Mayan beliefs.
"My fascination with ancient symbolism began six years ago whilst I was living in Mexico studying jewellery design," Lucas explains. "In Mayan philosophy we each have our own spirit animal that is closely and intrinsically linked to ourselves. This collection of animal jewellery is an ode to this philosophy. "
DAY OF THE DEAD
The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos as it is known in Mexico, is a day devoted to celebrating family members and friends who have passed away. The iconic sugar skull, a decorated edible candy skull often left on graves or at altars to celebrate the deceased, has become a popular motif in jewellery design, particularly for men.
Zoe & Morgan‘s silver men’s Vida la Muerte ring features a sugar skull with a shank that is in fact a thorny rose stem, while Tatty Devine’s sugar skull T-bar cufflinks are carved in black Perspex and decorated with a grinning face and Swarovski crystal eyes.
It is not just silver or fashion jewellery that references the colours and culture of Mexico. A number of high jewellery houses such as Dior and Italian mosaic specialists Sicis have got to grips with the sugar skull design. Sicis latest collaborative collection with Italian architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas features sugar skull pendants made using 18ct gold and tiny pieces of mosaic to create the skull’s faces.
At Dior, its creative director of jewellery Victoire de Castellane creates jewellery that appears to blossom with gemstones and burst with colour. Her Coffret de Victoire collection features an evolving array of detailed fine jewellery creations that has a hint of Treasure Island about it (think lost tropical islands brimming with treasures) as well as designs that hint at the colours, gems and icons of Mexico, such as the 18ct gold, opal, turquoise and diamond skull earrings, and its more recent turtle ring carved from opal that also has a tribal-like turtle engraved on the shank.
The trend for all things Mexican is heating up as we reach the summer months and these enduring motifs show that the myths and legends attached to the country are still cause for wonder and inspiration long after that inception, offering up an exciting and unusual array of jewellery.
This trends feature was taken from the June issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.