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Why is it Difficult to Sell Handcrafted Jewelry?

Exceptional handcrafted jewelry is designed and handmade by talented jewelers and artisan-jewelers the world over. While many designers create entirely unique designs, others are deeply influenced by their region’s historic cultural and traditional styles.

Jewelry expert Merlly Calisto works closely with hundreds of master artisan-designers in her homeland, Peru. There, she serves as regional director of Novica.com, a world arts website that assists thousands of artisans worldwide and features each artist’s biography and handcrafted collection online.

In the following interview, Calisto discusses handcrafted jewelry as an art form, and traditional styles and materials of handmade jewelry in Peru. Calisto explains what she looks for when seeking new jewelry designers and collections, who she recommends, and how she became a jewelry expert.

CG: Why does Novica specialize in handcrafted jewelry, instead of machine-made jewelry? What advantages does handmade jewelry provide over mass-produced designs?

MC: Handcrafted jewelry is more challenging. You can feel the artist’s soul in it. For artisans, handcrafted jewelry provides the chance to explore your creativity, to give more of yourself and to make it true, without requiring the artist to invest thousands to get his or her idea developed. With simple tools, basic raw materials, and talented hands, artists can express their feelings and beliefs in this art form, and show off their unique designs and their inherited culture. Machine-made jewelry, on the other hand, requires a significant investment in machines, employees, and many other related costs, while it removes the creative essence from this art.

CG: What are the typical styles of handcrafted jewelry a collector will find in Peru today?

MC: The typical styles for collectors of Peruvian jewelry include Pre-Inca, Traditional, Colonial, and even Modern. We are recognized for our gold and silver mines, which our ancestors put to use with considerable dedication. The most popular use was for the creation of exquisite, carefully handcrafted jewelry. Our ancestors captured their beliefs in their jewelry, and the symbols associated with those beliefs. You will popularly find Peruvian jewelry featuring royal birds, felines, the Sun God, and so forth. Peru is the Land of the Sun. Our Colonial jewelry, despite of being the result of the Conquest of the Americas, shows what our ancestors began to create after they learned an entirely new culture. So our Colonial jewelry merges our ancestor’s unique talents with new beginnings, and typically features a heavier emphasis on flora, rather than the emphasis on fauna that their predecessors maintained. Nowadays the art of jewelry design is opening up further in Peru, becoming a more attractive field for new jewelers who prefer modern jewelry — inspired by our roots, but featuring more abstract shapes and ideas. This means that the Peruvian artist may still express himself in a way that is inspired by our culture, but merged again with new beginnings.

CG: Can you describe more of the details one can expect to enjoy in Pre-Inca, Inca, and other Peruvian handcrafted jewelry designs? goth jewelry

MC: Pre-Inca and Inca jewelry share similarities, because the Inca Empire resulted from the conquest of various Pre-Inca cultures. Inca jewelry expresses the Inca’s beliefs and cosmology. You will find images of felines, people, or birds decorated with snakes or sunbeams which express royalty, power and loyalty. Some of our Pre-Inca cultures used a simple, attractive style to express their beliefs, most of those are still commonly represented in artistry today, and not only in jewelry. Colonial style jewelry is considered an elegant style. A Colonial jewel design, or a Modern jewelry design inspired by colonial times, gives you the sense of seeing something designed for the Queen. Although we do not use diamonds, for example, you cannot confuse this style with a bijouterie — you will feel it as a jewel. Colonial jewelry and Inca-style jewelry are typically stunning handmade works of art, perfect for collectors.