THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Ask what inspires them and jewellers will often cite particular gemstones or classic jewellery designs of the past. Brazilian jeweller Rose Carvalho works with more cosmic, universal concepts. “Gold dust blown over diamonds like stardust,” she says, “textures that resemble the lunar surface are seen through gemstones cut into lenses to magnify dimensions and create magic, as in my Moon necklace.” The world of Rose Carvalho is a paradise seen through the other side of the looking glass.
These jewellery collections and bespoke commissions are as much art as adornment, suffused with meaning and created with consummate technical skill. The titles of her collections tell their own story: Observatory, Lenses, Stardust, Kaleidoscope. “The universe is in fact perfect: it is a disorder that has an order,” ponders Rose. “Explosions and collisions happen so that new dimensions are created; everything fits in and is transformed into perfect harmony. I believe we all have some of that, and that’s how I feel in my creative process.”
Rose meets her customers in her studio in Rio de Janeiro’s Leblon neighbourhood. “It’s minimalist as well as cosy, with texts on the walls explaining my work and an aquarium along one wall,” she says. “I sit with my customers at a long table in the centre of the room.” Her design work is done at her home studio, where she sketches and builds sculptures of new pieces to direct her master goldsmiths.
Rose has 43 different collections, which she revisits, adding new pieces to keep them fresh. “My creative process begins with research into which symbol I am going to use and its historical value throughout the ages.” She used the mandala, which has been valued by different cultures for centuries, for her Mandala of Time ring. This is a complex feat of jewellery manufacture in which a diamond is viewed through a cabochon-cut quartz crystal set in white gold. Rose consulted an optician to determine the exact cut of the quartz so that it would be symmetrical, concentric and act as a lens through which to view the diamond.
“I am always developing new textures,” she says, “new cuts for my stones and also new techniques that are not the usual ones for a particular purpose, always seeking excellence to create a better visual effect.” Rose worked for 15 years in haute couture, which instilled in her a respect for detail, finish and perfection. “In jewellery, I am self-taught and I am always learning. I am an eternal student, both of myself and of the experience of the people with whom I work.”
She creates one-off pieces for clients. “I translate their individual personalities so that I can tell the stories of their lives, celebrations, accomplishments or desires,” she says. For a couple who got engaged in a planetarium, she designed earrings for the bride that are explosions of radiating diamonds. “They looked like a supernova,” she says. “Like two souls colliding.”
Every piece that Rose Carvalho creates is imbued with a story that resonates through time and across cultures. Her inspiration is both universal and deeply personal, whether stardust made into gold dust or hypnotic quartz lenses that distort and magnify perfectly set diamonds. “Designing jewellery is a passion, it has to be,” she says. “It’s about desires and perception.”