Ask Cornelia Goldsmith what her favorite thing to design is. Go ahead. I dare you. I’m just warning you. It’s going to be a passionate response. And you’re going to want to own whatever it is that she just rhapsodized about.
I fell under Cornelia’s spell recently, on a visit to her studio while I was in San Francisco. I had already been intrigued by images of her designs: intricate, highly figured jewelry rendered in richly-hued gems and beautiful textured metals. But seeing is definitely believing, especially when you’re in the presence of an artist.
Cornelia was always very personally attached to jewelry. From the start, she worked on her own collection. She had a workshop in her home and ideas and images of things she wanted to do, but had to learn how to actually fabricate the work that was in her head. She was fascinated by granulation (a technique in metalsmithing where tiny gold beads are formed and applied by heat to a surface), but also by entirely organic textures, like replicating bark and branches in precious metals. Each piece has been a journey: her vision of the design, its beauty, the person who wears it, and how it makes them feel.
Looking through her collections, it is obvious that gold is her favorite medium. She mixes colors of gold in interesting combinations. There is often an element of asymmetry, with lots of interesting figures and shapes. Her white gold is a special hypoallergenic alloy, a palladium 18kt white. It has a rich look to it, and is not rhodium plated, so rather than disappoint at some point in the future when rhodium inevitably wears off, her white gold becomes softer, richer, and stays true to its warm character.
I saw a truly exceptional bracelet made of hand-forged links of oxidized silver and some gold links; part of a new silver/gold collection. Each link had its own singular shape, some scattered with bezel-set diamonds, some of the oxidation removed so that it looks beautiful even in six months or six years. The Infinity symbol in the toggle clasp symbolizes her philosophy: wear it everyday and forever.
Cornelia Goldsmith Interview
This is an excerpt of my interview with Cornelia. You can read the full interview over at the Contemporary Jewelry Design Group’s website, where Cornelia is a member and I am an editor.
idazzle.com: I can see that you care deeply about every piece, and it’s obvious that each collection, each piece is made with love. What is your favorite thing to design?
Cornelia Goldsmith: I am most excited about the idea of a collection. Like now I am working on a bridal line, and I am so excited as this new collection comes to life, and how it relates to existing collections. Everything we make, I like. Even the simplest things I love just as much.
One-of-a-kind designs are more challenging, and technical to solve their problem of how I want them to be at the end. But I love that they all have a story. Like the Aquamarine Glacier Ring, with its custom cut Aqua Cut. Blue and white diamonds symbolize icicles, starting as ice then transforming to water, as the engraving at the bottom of the band. I’m currently working on a platinum ring with a 36 carat Blue Topaz—it’s a big challenge, which I like!
So you love gold?
Yes, I guess that is no secret! It is truly my medium.
How do you work with clients? Privately or through retailers?
I sell my designs through a number of retailers. But I also work directly with clients as well. People who are drawn to my designs and perhaps want something custom can repurpose old, inherited jewelry, and customize existing collection designs. This especially happens with my Trees, and the Circle of Light collection.
What’s your personal design philosophy?
Gold is so expensive, and my designs are so labor intensive that every element needs to be thoughtful and perfect. From conception to final polish, every detail is the absolute highest craftsmanship and detail. I want them to last. The setting is right from the beginning so we don’t have to repair it later. It will truly last for generations.
I feel that there is a piece of jewelry for everyone. As a designer you can’t design for everyone. You have to find your aesthetic, and the person who appreciates that design will hopefully find you. There is no lack of jewelry out there. People want to identify with what they purchase.
You can read the full interview over at www.CJDGjewelers.org. It’s obvious that more people are identifying with Cornelia Goldsmith’s aesthetic, and the world is better for it. Congratulations to a Rising Star!
You can find Cornelia’s designs at her website www.corneliagoldsmith.com.