Jewelry-maker Maddalena Bearzi uses the shapes, colors and textures of nature to inform the unusual character and style of her work. At the same time, she’s very aware of the need to respect and protect the environment, choosing sustainable materials and methods as an integral part of her company’s mission.
The welcome on her website makes her goal wonderfully clear: “It’s for women and men thirsty for something fresh, sophisticated, unique and at the same time sustainable. It’s also a place to stop, take a breath and explore what’s buzzing around the microcosm of responsible jewelry design here on our beautiful Planet Earth.”
Born in Verona, Italy, Bearzi has always loved to travel, learning as she explored new places and peoples. She earned a PhD in biology and has studied whales, dolphins and other marine mammals in the field for more than 25 years. Oh, and if that’s not enough to assure you of her environmental chops, she’s also president of the research and environmental nonprofit Ocean Conservation Society and has published two books on dolphins. (We suspect she doesn’t spend much time watching TV….)
Somehow Bearzi carved out the time to teach herself the basics of jewelry-making, and went on to study metalsmithing at the University of California, Los Angeles. You’d think that she’d have a full toolbox of jewelry-crafting skills, but no–she’s an artist who strives to learn more, constantly. (We think she probably has several toolboxes.) She’s worked alongside master silversmith and jeweler Gordon Wainwright, who shared some of his techniques with her, and also learned from world-renowned jewelry artist Harold O’Connor.
Bearzi rejects shortcuts, preferring instead to handcraft one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry art. You can tell that by the personality that’s evident in her work, whether it’s unconventional rings, quirky bracelets or statement-making cuffs like the one above. They all revel in their uniqueness.
Part of the character of Bearzi’s pieces comes from the inspiration she draws from her love of nature, but the materials she uses and the way she chooses to partner them are equal stars here. Sustainable textiles (like the Foresta necklace, below), repurposed metals, upcycled vintage charms, natural stones, reclaimed silver and gold, precious and semi-precious stones, bronze, brass and copper–they all work together in her creations, some modeled on the main actors in the solar system, such as in the cool ring above, others inspired by meadows of waving grasses or the smooth curves of islands.
Bearzi’s innovative metalsmithing techniques work on bronze, brass and copper, turning the metals into unusual, original shapes and distinctive textures, playing with subtle shades and colors. You’ll see this in action in her limited-edition Aria, Pianeta and Terra collections, which all use natural themes translated into striking, coordinated pieces.
Bearzi’s work is not only wearable art–her jewelry has been exhibited in galleries and art shows. Much more fun owning art you can wear and show off rather than sticking a picture on the wall, right?