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Pippa has spent her career travelling the world, working with master craftsmen and diverse communities to set new standards for ethical jewellery practices. Pippa has spent the last 3 years working towards her latest project, 'Together Forever’, a purely ethical gold and emerald collection, made in Colombia.
The project began through conversations with the Association of Responsible Miners, who introduced her to Ana Sierra in Colombia. Ana is an advocate for gold panners of Choco in Colombia’s tropical forest region. These women gold panners extract gold in the only eco clean and carbon neutral method by using wooden pans to lift gravel from the river, swirling skilfully to separate the gold from the rock. No chemicals and no machines. These women pan gold as a part of a subsistence economy. The sale of the gold provides money for health and education for their families and they are adamant that their children and grandchildren should have the same opportunity to supplement their incomes by having access to pan in the rivers. Opposed to large scale mining companies who would take all the gold leaving nothing to future generations, they prefer to take small amounts and allow the finite supply to last.
Naturally, Pippa chose to set beautiful alluvial emeralds from the mountain rivers of Muzo and Chivor into the collection. Also panned, without the use of machines or chemicals, they have always been seen as symbols of new beginnings. Each piece is a one of a kind and designs include filigree mermaids, leaves woven into chains as a nod to the beautiful surrounding forests, cocoa and tamarind pods filled with seeds. All made by hand by skilled traditional Afro-Colombian goldsmiths.
This collection is yet another step Pippa takes towards sharing the story of why clean gold is so important. It will launch on Net-a-Porter, in Pippa Small stores and online. We are so excited to share this with the world.
David, a talented artisan, learned goldsmithing from his family and works with his brothers in a small workshop in Tumaco. He is also a fisherman who whenever he can, takes his boat out onto the pacific to fish. He works with his brothers and team to create traditional fine filigree work for the local market. He shared with Pippa stories of mermaids, specifically the myth of a mermaid that has been seen bathing in the river now named after her.
For this collection, he made a beautiful gold mermaid with delicate filling in her tail, a seahorse, and a fish charm that he placed on a handmade chain.
Meet the Maker
Eber, a skilled goldsmith who has worked with gold most of his life, works alone in a small workshop. He shared stories with Pippa that illustrated how central gold is to his life. When he was young, he entered a raffle and won a gold chain with a medal of the Madonna on it. His stories illustrated the power of gold and how it can be used for good by sharing how his chain has helped him through his life. When he needed cash for school or any urgent needs, he would take his precious chain to the pawn dealer, who would lend him money until he could repay him. His chain always helped him.
For this collection, he made a gold Cacao Pod skillfully hammered with brass seeds inside that rattle like a real pod. Cacao has been a huge cash crop in the region, and the pod is a familiar sight in the markets.
Meet the Maker
Wilmar Marquinez, 50 years old. Born in Tumaco, and raised in Barbacoas, the ancestral capital of gold panning and Afro jewellery. Willmar’s artistic creative mind and highly skilled technique developed over 30 years, allow him to develop the most unique filigree shapes and patterns. Wilmar dominates all the local jewellery techniques, but he mostly works in filigree which is also his favourite technique. His dream is to become an independent jeweller and save money to invest in his own home. "Keep treasuring these ancestral jewels so that jewellers like me can continue dedicating our lives to this art" is his message to Pippa’s customers.
For this collection, he made the peacock necklace, using skilled filigree work to fill the tail and wings of this intricate pendant. He also incorporated this spectacular bird into a ring and earring design. The Peacock symbolizes beauty and love and is inspired by a traditional local ancient design.
Meet the Maker
Leonel Cuero started making jewellery at the age of 16. He began handcrafting chains and then filigree jewels. The joy of his clients receiving the jewellery he made led him to dedicate himself completely to this art. Leonel is a master goldsmith who created the complex 'Together Forever' necklace — taking a few days to weave together the gold links that make a beautifully soft woven chain that lies seductively on the neck. This is a traditional chain used for people to invest their money safely for future use or to be passed down through the generations. The necklace gets smoother and softer with age and holds each wearer's story.
Meet the Maker
Henry Paz, 45 years old, works in Tumaco with his wife and makes beautiful, skilled, traditional pieces. His first teacher at the age of 15 years was his mother and later he learned to weave chains, filigree and casting from Maestro Leonel Valencia. He also knows gem setting and has been a jeweller for more than 30 years now.